Back in July 2013, new rules came into force which introduced significant charges for anyone seeking to make a claim in the Employment Tribunal. The Government intended these Tribunal Fees to recoup some of the costs of running the Tribunals but critics remain concerned that the high level of charges which start at around £160, and increase to between £230 and £950 for further hearings, will prevent people from making valid Tribunal Claims.
A long-running legal challenge, brought by the trade union Unison against the Lord Chancellor fees is now nearing its conclusion.
Unison claims that the introduction of fees has stopped thousands of employees, particularly those on low incomes, from being able to pursue claims against employers if they are badly treated by them. The court will also have to consider whether the fee scheme effectively “makes enforcement of UK employment law rights uneconomical”.
Since the introduction of these fees, there has been an abundance of evidence to demonstrate that the rights of access to justice for large numbers of claimants has been prevented within the tribunal, due to the fees now levied.
Also this week, the Joint Committee on Human Rights, in publishing its Human Rights and Business 2017 report, urged the government to reduce tribunal fees. The committee, chaired by Harriet Harman QC MP, has said the fees were clearly ’a barrier to victims seeking justice when they have suffered human rights abuses, including discrimination, at the hands of their employers and offer impunity for employers abusing human rights’.
The committee said: ’This means that, in order to have legal representation, they need to find a lawyer who will represent them on a no-win, no-fee basis. This significantly reduces the pool of lawyers willing to take on such cases.’
The Justice Minister Sir Oliver Heald told the committee that the government is consulting on some improvements to the employment tribunal fee scheme but that overall “the policy is working well”.
Who for one might ask? Evidently not for the complainants as they are the ones who simply cannot afford such luxuries as access to justice.
But perhaps there is another way for complainants to be able to obtain some access to justice through the employment tribunal?
After the Event insurance for Employment Tribunal Fees
We are now able to offer After the Event insurance for Employment Tribunal Claims.
Our FeeSafe After the Event Insurance product has been introduced to safeguard access to justice for anyone wishing to make a claim by insuring the Tribunal Fees and, in some circumstances, actually providing funding of the new Hearing Fees up to £950. The funding is necessary as often the person making a claim will have lost their job and so will not be in a position to afford the new Tribunal charges.
We have created a dedicated website which explains all about our Tribunal Fees ATE Insurance product called ‘FeeSafe’. You can take a look here.