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Legal experts call for tribunal fees review

Unions and employment law experts are united in calling for a review of tribunal fees after Ministry of Justice (MoJ) figures revealed cases have fallen 70% since their introduction one year ago.

Figures revealed by the TUC reveals sex discrimination cases have seen the biggest decrease (91%), followed by unfair dismissal and unfair deduction from wages (both 74%).

Early conciliation was introduced in April to further reduce the number of employment disputes that go to tribunal. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady called its introduction a “welcome step”, but claimed that it could not explain the long-term fall in tribunal numbers.

“The fees system is a victory for Britain’s bad bosses who are getting away with harassment and abuse of workers,” she said.

“Tribunal fees are pricing workers out of justice and have created a barrier to basic rights at work. The government has put Britain in a race to the bottom that is creating an economy based on zero-hours jobs and zero-rights for workers.”

Irwin Mitchell partner Fergal Dowling said the figures will buoy Unison’s legal case in its attempt to have fees ruled illegal.

He added that shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna’s speech calling for the fees to be rescinded is worth looking into.

“Recent calls by the scrapping of employment tribunal fees by the Labour Party need to be balanced by the needs of business, but we believe the time is right to review the systems and ensure it is operating in a fair way for all,” he said.

Meanwhile Kingsley Napley head of employment law Richard Fox warned the figures show there is a “serious question of access to justice”.

“This is the third successive round of statistics showing the number of claims to the employment tribunal being very significantly down on where they were before the Fees Order came into force in July a year ago” he said.

“We really have reached the situation where many voices are coming together to say something must be done.”