The Justice Committee has completed its inquiry into the Government’s introduction of tribunal fees and published a damning report.
The take-away points from the report
The Justice committee was critical of the level of research undertaken by the Government before employment tribunal fees were introduced. The Justice Committee report concluded “we share the view expressed by the senior judiciary and some others who gave evidence to us that the research which was conducted as part of the formulation of the Ministry’s proposals in relation to courts and tribunals fees provides an insufficient basis to justify the Ministry’s proposals”
The Government’s delay in conducting a review of the fee regime.
“We find it unacceptable that the Government has not reported the results of its review one year after it began and six months after the Government said it would be completed”.
Justice Committee Report – Recommendations and Conclusions section, Para 6.
The Justice Committee report went on to say “there are some inconsistencies in the Government’s account of the progress of its review into the impact of employment tribunal fees. It is difficult to see how a Minister can urge his officials to progress a review which they apparently submitted to him 4 months or more previously. And even if Ministers may now be discussing how to proceed on the basis of the review’s findings, and recognizing that Departments other than the Ministry of Justice have an input into this, there can be no compelling reason to withhold from public view the factual information about the impact of the introduction of employment tribunal fees which will have been collated by the review. There is a troubling contrast between the speed with which the Government has brought forward successive proposals for higher fees, and its tardiness in completing an assessment of the impact of the most controversial change it has made.”
The Committee described the reliance on ACAS statistics to support an argument that access to justice has been preserved as ‘superficial’.
The committee recommended:
- overall fees should be reduced.
- The Type A/type B claims distinction should be replaced as it is too simplistic.
- The income and capital thresholds for fee remission should be increased.
- Special consideration should be given for women bringing maternity or pregnancy discrimination claims as well as a review of the three month limitation period for bringing claims.