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Fees barring access to justice, says employment tribunals president

Tue 27 Oct 2015

The introduction of fees for employment tribunals has led to many people being unable to seek redress, the president of Employment Tribunals England & Wales has said.

Speaking at a session of the Justice Committee, Judge Brian Doyle said nearly two-thirds of potential claimants have been shut out of the system because it is too costly, the Law Gazette reports.

As a result, he believes the introduction of fees "has had an adverse effect upon access to justice".

Mr Doyle said this has been particularly apparent in short-track and standard-track cases, as many people have decided the fee is too expensive given the amount of money at stake.

He has therefore called for changes to be made to the system, such as the implementation of different fees for the various types of cases that are heard.

Sue Kelly, a partner in the employment team at Winckworth Sherwood, commented: "Judge Brian Doyle made the same comments at a recent lecture delivered to the Employment Lawyers Association, and the access to justice argument is certainly gaining momentum. However, Judge Doyle also made it clear that the impact of budgetary cuts on the judicial system as a whole mean that fees in some shape or form are here to stay, and he explained that the judiciary are working hard to try to deliver the best possible system within those cost constraints.”

This backs up a recent statement from the Law Society, which said claimants with strong cases see the fee as a "significant deterrent to pursuing a complaint".

The organisation argued that discouraging people from pursuing valid claims is harmful both to the individuals concerned and to well-run businesses.

Indeed, it suggested that compliant firms could find themselves "at a competitive disadvantage compared to the minority who adopt a 'less careful' attitude to employment law".

A review into the impact of fees for employee tribunals is currently being carried out by the Ministry of Justice.

This will conclude at the end of the year and the findings will be published shortly afterwards.

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