A Tayside employment law expert who last year hailed the decision to abolish tribunal fees as "one of the most important in the modern era" has been proved right as tribunal claims soar.
Alan Matthew, a partner from Miller Hendry, which has branches in Dundee, Perth and Crieff, welcomed the Supreme Court ruling in 2017. The ruling led to the UK Government refunding claimants after acting unlawfully in 2013 by introducing hefty charges of up to £1,200 in a bid to reduce the number of malicious and weak cases.
The Ministry of Justice said it would take immediate steps to stop charging and refund payments. As a result, single employee tribunal claims increased by 90% from October to December 2017, according to published statistics from the Ministry of Justice. The backlog of single employee tribunal claims increased by 66% in the same period.
Since the launch of the refund scheme last October, 4,800 applications for refunds were received between October and December and 3,400 payments with a total value of £2.89 million were made.
This increase in claims comes as no surprise to Alan Matthew, who strongly supported the right of employees to access justice and publicly lobbied for a rethink on tribunal charges.
He said: "When fees were introduced they had the fairly immediate effect of creating a financial barrier to proceeding with a claim for those wishing to take their employer to tribunal. Today, we see how removing the financial barrier has enabled claimants to retain a fairer balance of power between employer and employee, and restored that principle of employment rights for all, including the lower paid.
"Employers have felt the impact of last year's Supreme Court ruling as the volume of claims has increased and this will continue to be the case now and in the future, so businesses should continue to be aware of the changes."
For further advice or information on employment law or other legal issues, visit www.millerhendrysolicitors.co.uk
Miller Hendry is one of the longest established and largest legal firms in Tayside. With 16 partners and 150 staff, through our offices in Dundee, Perth, Crieff, Comrie and Auchterarder we provide a wide range of legal expertise to our clients. As well as a sizeable Estate Agency and Property Services business we have specialists in Court, Private Client, Asset Management and Commercial work.