Thousands of claimants who paid fees to bring an employment tribunal claim continue to be out of pocket one year on from a damning Supreme Court ruling that rendered fees unlawful.
According to figures published by the Ministry of Justice it has so far refunded £6.6m of the expected £33m refund cost (20%). The government said immediately after the ruling that it would refund those who had paid a fee and set-up an official refund programme in October 2017.
In May last year, the Gazette reported that the government had refunded around £2.8m of the expected overall cost. After those figures were published the government then backtracked on its decision not to contact eligible claimants directly, with justice secretary David Gauke confirming that ‘further action was necessary’ to ensure refunds were made in a timely fashion.
Reacting to the latest figures, Christina McAnea, assistant general secretary Unison, which brought the successful challenge, said: ‘Putting right this huge wrong should have happened faster. The government must make much more of an effort to pay back the money it owes to thousands of people, and promise never again to introduce such a huge barrier to justice.’
The latest figures also reveal that the number of people bringing a claim since last July’s ruling continues to rise sharply compared with when fees were in place. According to the MoJ, 9,252 single claims were brought against employers from January 2018 to the end of March - more than double the number received between October 2013 and June 2017.
Elsewhere, the latest minutes of the employment tribunal’s national user group revealed that the government did not intend to allow claimants deterred frombringing a claim due to the fees to bring claims out of time. According to the minutes, group president Sir Bryan Doyle said he ‘did not understand that to be intended or appropriate’. He added: ‘It would not usually be the role of government or its agencies to excite litigation.’An HM Courts and Tribunals Service spokesperson said:
A spokesperson for HM Courts and Tribunals Service said: ’Since launching our refund scheme we have been working hard to process refunds to those eligible. We are working with trade unions to get the message out and have also been sending around 10,000 letters a month to those people we think may be eligible.’