The government will consider lowering employment tribunal fees as part of a review of the regime, a junior minister indicated today.
Jenny Willott MP, minister for employment relations and consumer affairs, said a number of aspects of the system will be under review. ‘One of those issues I am sure will be the level of fees,’ she told a Westminster Forum event.
Tribunal fees were introduced in July. Fees start at around £160, and increase to between £230 and £950 for further hearings.
Willot (pictured) said the regime will be subject to ‘a lot of parliamentary scrutiny’ but added it was too soon to judge the impact of the system.
However, it is unclear what form a review of the process would take.
Hugh Collins, professor of English Law at the University of Oxford, said the fees were four times higher than they ought to be when compared with county court fees.
He said lowering them to as little as £50 could be enough to deter vexatious claims and ensure meritorious ones are still brought. ‘My objection to fees is that they are just so high,’ he told delegates. ‘If we had it at a £50 fee, that would be enough to be rid of a lot of the ridiculous claims,’ he said.
According to government statistics the number of claims fell 79% to 9,801 in the final quarter of last year compared with the same period in 2012, and dropped 75% on the third quarter of 2013.
In February the High Court dismissed a challenge by trade union Unison to the introduction of employment tribunal fees. Unison has until 14 April to apply directly to the Court of Appeal for an appeal.