Theresa Carling, an Associate in our Employment Law Team was quick off the mark when she circulated the news on Linkedin this morning about this judgment news.

She comments:

"There can be no doubt whatsoever that the fees were very off-putting for claimants -a 70% drop in ET claims since they started show a dramatic and sustained reduction in those cases going on to be lodged. For those on low wages, or in part time work, employees might have been able to claim that they shouldn’t pay their fees. But for those who could, in theory at least, afford those fees, there was a very genuine decision to make: pay the fees and start the claim, or forget about their poor or illegal treatment by the employer and move on with their lives at a time where they had little financial security. I can’t imagine a more difficult scenario than gambling on pursuing a tribunal case and paying to start a claim when you have just lost a job…

As an employment solicitor mainly acting for companies for many years, I can see that the level of claims has dropped dramatically against my employer clients, and while I welcome the huge drop in claims, including those which didn’t have any prospects of success, I believe that cases that would have been properly pursued before have vanished due to the cost implications of starting a claim. This situation has, without a doubt, led to less scrupulous employers taking risks and treating staff worse than they would have done, in a rather unhealthy ‘wait and see’ environment.

So what will happen now? I can only speculate, but it would seem that there will be some considerable efforts (and manpower needed) to reimburse all of those fees received since 2013 which should be refunded. There may also be claims presented which would have been out of time, but for the fact that the claimant couldn’t then afford the fees.

Looking to the future, it is doubtful that no fees will be payable when presenting claims to the Tribunal, but the costs for starting claims are likely to shrink dramatically, particularly as the current fees are more than those payable in the County Courts, based upon value."