Employment tribunal claims plummeted in the last quarter of 2013, reflecting the impact of the introduction of tribunal fees in July, figures published today reveal.

The number of claims fell 79% in the final quarter of last year to 9,801 compared with the same period in 2012, and dropped 75% on the third quarter of 2013.

In July the government introduced fees of £160 to issue a claim, rising to £250 depending on the type of claim, with further hearing fees of between £230 and £950.

Richard Fox, head of employment law at London firm Kingsley Napley and chair of the Employment Lawyers Association, said: ‘It is now clear that many employees have been deterred from bringing tribunal claims since fees were introduced last year.

‘If employees no longer feel able to defend their interests via tribunal proceedings, they may look to do so in other ways – such as by turning to trade unions to fight their corner.’

Last month the High Court dismissed trade union Unison’s legal challenge to the introduction of tribunal fees.

Giving judgment in Unison v Lord Chancellor Lord Justice Moses (pictured) and Mr Justice Irwin described the union’s argument as ‘premature’ and said that ‘the evidence at this stage lacks that robustness necessary to overturn the regime’.

Unison said it intends to take the case to the Court of Appeal to consider its arguments further, in particular its claim that the fees will have a disproportionate impact on women.

Dave Prentis, the union's general secretary, said the new figures were ‘shocking’.

He said ‘the disastrous effect of tribunal fees is now blatantly obvious. The introduction of fees was unfair and they should be dropped. Money should never be a barrier to justice, so it is deeply disturbing that this is exactly what is happening for thousands of workers since the fees were introduced.’