It has been reported that Exeter Tribunal has seen a drop of circa 75% in the volume of unfair dismissal claims issued of late since fees were introduced in July last year.
This statistic is alarming and supports our grave concerns that the introduction of Tribunal fees is dramatically restricting access to justice. Clearly, such a large drop cannot be explained away by any suggestion that this 75% represent frivolous or vexatious claims or claims without merit.
The latter category would represent a small percentage of 75% in our view.
The balance is likely to be valid claims with merit that individuals do not pursue through fear of having to pay up to £1200 in Tribunal fees when they are likely to be without employment. It is this fear that is causing this reluctance.
On the ground, we have formed the view that the mere mention of potential Tribunal fees scares people off bringing valid claims. Potential Claimants should remember that if they are still without employment, they are at liberty to apply for remission against having to pay these fees and of course we can assist them in this regard.
The remission system has clearly been designed to make it as hard as possible for individuals to gain remission, which is disappointing given that we are dealing with vulnerable people who have lost their financial independence.
Whilst the Government seem hell-bent on unashamedly restricting access to justice to save money, we urge Claimants who believe they have a valid claim to let us assist them in pursuing their claims and helping them navigate through the hurdles the system currently presents.
Let’s hope the Court does the right thing this Friday when they deliver their Judgement on the Judicial Review application against the introduction of these fees and gets rid of them.