Since Tribunal Fees were abolished in 2017 the number of claims lodged has doubled. Unfortunately, the abolition of fees and increase in claims has coincided with budget cuts to the Tribunal system leading to many venues closing, including Bedford and Huntingdon.
This means that there are more claims but fewer venues and judges to hear them and it is very common for hearings to once again be postponed the week before due to judicial resources. This is an issue regular readers will be all to aware of.
Additionally, there are fewer administrative support staff – Huntingdon was also an Employment Tribunal to close that served as an administrative centre for other venues. This means claims take longer to be processed and dates take longer to be assigned. This is despite the remaining staff often working weekends to process the additional demand.
Latest figures show that the average time to dispose of a claim has risen from 27 to 33 weeks over the past twelve months. What is more telling is the claim backlog has risen by 39% to over 26,000. This suggests that many claims are not being dealt with in the 33-week average.
It is not clear if settled claims and smaller wages/deductions claims are included in these figures. When factoring in cancelations, separate remedy hearings and possible appeals current experience suggests it is usually at least 9-12 months before a claim reaches first hearing.
As things stand, many employers will have be exposed to a significant time and cost risk as claim figures are unlikely to change unless fees are reintroduced, or, the Tribunal system is given more resources. With both looking unlikely for the foreseeable future, it is no wonder many employers are obtaining legal expenses insurance to cover the cost of claims. For a discounted quote or brochure for United Employment Lawyers legal insurance please email firstname.lastname@example.org