The introduction of fees into the tribunal service is possibly the most controversial change to the tribunal system since its inception. This change has been praised by some as a means of weeding out unmeritorious claims and condemned by others as a restriction on employee’s rights leaving them poorly protected against unscrupulous employers. The 29 July also saw the introduction of new rules of procedure and new ET1 and ET3 forms.
One week into the changes it’s safe to say that it is too early to judge the impact that the new fee regime has had on the system. Employers may find that, initially, the introduction of fees actually leads to an increase in claims since claimants are trying to avoid the fee requirements. There has also been difficulties with the new online forms which initially were not downloading properly, but this appears to have more or less righted itself. Despite the changes, no doubt some employees have lodged claims this week as well and will continue to do so.
Although UNISON’s application for an injunction to prevent the introduction of fees was rejected by the High Court, the renewed application to seek a judicial review of the decision to introduce fees has been permitted to proceed and will be heard later this year in October. Employers will be keen to find out whether it has all been much ado about nothing or if the fee regime will stand up to UNISON’s challenge. Watch this space!