Tribunal fees, kryptonite to both employees and employment solicitors from 2013 to 2017. As all of you are aware fees were abolished last summer after the Supreme Court found the were unlawful due to the disproportionately high fees creating a barrier to justice, particularly for maternity, race and disability related claims.
Well, this month, it was announced by the Law Society that the Ministry of Justice has proposed reintroducing fees but at a more proportionate rate so they would not act as a barrier. The comment was not followed with any official consultation or statement so may not take place for some time, especially if the government collapses!
However, observing on the current state of the Tribunal system, it does not seem that the MoJ and departments in charge of setting the MoJ’s budget, were anticipating fees being made unlawful. Large swathes of HMCTS jobs had been cut and the Tribunal system is currently struggling to deal with the volume of claims.
We are returning to the days of last minute cancelations and many hearings are listed 12+ months after the claim was presented to the Tribunal. This means both parties have the litigation hanging over them for longer than necessary and cancelations inevitably lead to wasted costs, particularly on barristers.
Whilst fees might go some way to putting money in the coffers (the express motive) and deterring Claimants (the ulterior motive), it might be wise to fund the judicial system to allow justice to be reached in a timely and cost-efficient manner.