Abolition of Employment Law fees – Access to justice or ‘opening the floodgates’?
In 2013 the Government introduced fees for Employment Tribunals, resulting in potential costs of up to £1200.00 in fees for an employee at what could be one of the most financially difficult times for them. The reason behind this has been questioned since its introduction as it painted quite an unsavoury image and indeed, arguably, a reality of employees being denied access to justice and employers being ‘let off the hook’.
However, a recent Supreme Court ruling has ruled that the introduction of the fees was illegal and the fees were abolished with immediate effect. Whilst this may appear to be a good thing, as it can ‘re-open the gates’ so to speak in providing greater access to justice and less costly opportunities for employees to assert their rights, there may also be some disadvantages for employers.
The abolition of fees provides an opportunity for employees who may otherwise have thought twice before commencing a claim before the Employment Tribunal, to institute a claim without any fees for doing so other than any fees due to their legal representatives. This may result in more tactical claims being commenced with a view to settling it based on the nuisance value for the Employer.
Of course, the turn in recent events is indeed a positive one for those claimants seeking to assert their rights in circumstances where the employer has not behaved lawfully, and does provide greater access to justice.
Since the ruling, we have seen a dramatic increase in Employment Law related enquiries.
At O’Donnell Solicitors, we act for both employers and employees in Employment Law matters from general advice at grievance and disciplinary stage, to acting in issued cases before the Employment Tribunal, Settlement Agreements and drafting of employment contracts/service agreements.