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Workers ‘priced out of justice by employment tribunal fees’

The body that represents solicitors in England and Wales has called for “fair and affordable” employment tribunals.

The call came from the Law Society after Ministry of Justice figures revealed that the number of employment tribunal cases has fallen by more than 60 per cent in the two years since charges were introduced for bringing a case against an employer, with the aim of transferring the cost of tribunals to users and encouraging employers and employees to resolve disputes more informally.

Depending on the type of case, it costs either £160 or £250 to lodge an employment tribunal claim, with a further fee of either £230 or £950 if the case goes ahead, making a total of either £390 or £1,200.

The lower costs apply to cases involving issues including unpaid wages or breach of contract and the higher fees in situations such as unfair dismissal and discrimination.

The Law Society warned on 29 July that access to justice on employment matters was now limited to people able to afford tribunal fees. President Jonathan Smithers said: “The £1,200 that a claimant must now pay for most types of cases is close to the average monthly salary, putting a tribunal well beyond the reach of many people, particularly those on lower incomes.

“Everyone needs employment tribunals that are fair and affordable. They must work for both employers and employees.”

The Law Society said it would be contributing to a Ministry of Justice review of the impact of the introduction of the fees, announced in June.