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Increase in Employment Tribunal Claims and surge in ET fee refunds

October 17, 2018

The latest Employment Tribunal statistics published by the Ministry of Justice show a significant increase in claims issued in the Employment Tribunals (ET) since ET fees were abolished on 26 July 2017.

Whilst it was anticipated that there would be a rise in claims – as evidence showed that ET fees acted as a deterrent to Claimant’s bringing claims – employers will be interested to see that the new figures show that single claims issued in the ET during the quarter April-June 2018 increased by 165% compared to the same quarter in 2017. It is the sheer volume of claims that appears to have taken the HM Courts & Tribunal Service by surprise – especially as there is still a high number of stayed claims which are still in the Tribunal System. There remains a concern within the employment lawyers community that without additional funding, support, and more Employment Tribunal judges that the Employment Tribunals will struggle to deal with cases in a timely fashion.

The ET statistics also show that since the launch of the ET fee refund scheme in October 2017 and until 30 June 2018, some 14,500 applications were made for refunds of ET fees. Of those applications, approximately 12,400 repayments were made, amounting to a total sum of £10.6m. No doubt this was money that – in government circles at least – was not budgeted for, and one wonders whether that refunded money has been taken out of the Employment Tribunal system.

The statistics also reveal that in 2017/2018 the highest compensation amount awarded for an Unfair Dismissal claim was £415,227 (compared to £1.7m the previous year) whilst the highest amount awarded for a discrimination claim was £242,130 (disability discrimination). The highest Unfair Dismissal compensation was awarded in the case of McBride –v- Scottish Police Authority. This case involved a fingerprint expert who had been Unfairly Dismissed by the Scottish Police Authority in 2007. The Employment Tribunal in that case made an order in 2009 for compensation (around £30,000) and reinstatement. The Scottish Police Authority ignored the reinstatement order and appealed the case. The case eventually reached the Supreme Court in 2016, which held that the original reinstatement order was valid and the case was remitted back to the Employment Tribunal for the level of compensation to be revised. The reason the amount is in excess of the usual Unfair Dismissal cap is because when the Employment Tribunal revised the compensation level in 2017 following the Supreme Court Judgment they had to take into account lost earnings from the date of the reinstatement order in 2009 and until Ms McBride’s actual reinstatement.

The material contained in this article is provided for general purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice. Appropriate legal advice should be sought for specific circumstances and before action is taken.

© Miller Rosenfalck LLP, October 2018

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