Dominic Raab MP is right about one thing. There is ’a lot to do’ to refund people who forked out for employment tribunal fees before they were ruled unlawful last summer.
This was the justice minister’s modest take on the refund process when grilled by MPs at this week’s justice committee hearing.
It emerged (after some probing) that the government has so far refunded 2,600 claimants to the tune of £1.8m. In simple terms, that means around 95% of the expected £33m refund cost is still outstanding going into Christmas and the new year. Thounds of claimants continue to be out-of-pocket.
So far, the majority of refunds have gone to those who took it upon themselves to contact the Ministry of Justice directly. You could be forgiven for assuming that to be a relatively small proportion of eligible claimants.
So what of those remaining claimants, some of whom may not even be aware they are due a refund?
Pressed on this, Raab insisted he was confident that a ‘rigorous scheme is in place’.
Here, I’m afraid, is where he and I disagree.
The supposed ‘rigorous scheme’, it appears, relies on information displayed on the 'usual government channels’. MPs have also been told they can inform constituents.
But how many people, particularly those who may have paid their fee as much as four years ago, will be regularly checking the government website or will know where to look?
For what it’s worth, the relevant information is here.
One MP said the government should write to those due a refund. But this was slapped down because ‘often people move home’. I’d be interested to see if these out-of-pocket claimants are indeed as untraceable as the government is making out.
Solicitors have suggested that they should be the ones who contact eligible claimants. The names (and, with any luck, an up-to-date address) would be on their books and solicitors would know the details of the case. This would be a smart approach.
Whatever happens over the next few months, without a proactive approach the percentage of those still due a refund may not decrease too dramatically.