The abolition of employment tribunal fees following this week's Supreme Court ruling could have consequences for the workload of other parts of the tribunals service, it emerged today.
In his annual report published today, the senior president of tribunals Sir Ernest Ryder reveals that following the slump in employment cases after fees were introduced in 2013 many 'under-utilised' employment tribunal judges were moved to other jurisdictions. The aim was to relieve pressure on tribunals with 'significant workload increases', notably the first-tier tribunal, and the immigration and asylum chamber.
In 2014, 198 judges from the employment tribunals and social entitlement chamber were assigned for two years, the report reveals. Last summer, 139 of them successfully extended their deployment. Since then, another 37 employment tribunal judges have been assigned to the immigration and asylum chamber.
However, the government’s decision to scrap employment tribunal fees, following Wednesday's court ruling, could lead to employment claims returning to pre-2013 levels.
In the report, Michael Clements, president of the immigration and asylum chamber, said numbers of judges are already insufficient to meet increasing demands on the tribunal's work. The number of judges in the first-tier tribunal and immigration and asylum chamber fell from 152 in 2005 to 65 in October 2016.
The report states that the social entitlement chamber encouraged judges to take on work in other jurisdictions through assignments and deployments to cope with a 'dramatic' downturn in social security and child support cases. However, judge John Aitken, president of the social entitlement chamber, warned 'there are limits to how far we can continue to do this without experiencing a detrimental effect on our own deployment and listings'.