Tribunal Reform…the Jury’s Out

Hello Bloggers,

The Coalition Government is looking to get to grips with a range of weighty issues – the growing UK deficit, rising inflation, reducing public spend, and also the beleaguered employment tribunal system (see my blog post: Tribunals and Tribulations).

The signalled intent to overhaul a creaking tribunal system has received a mixed reaction from lawyers and employers alike. CBI director-general John Cridland recently described the current employment tribunal system as “broken” but even the reform measures haven’t secured the support perhaps envisaged.

Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to make sweeping changes to create a vision of “…the most pro-business, pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda ever unleashed by a government”.

At the heart of the problem appears to be many employers concerned that the reforms will not be sufficient to weed out those applications without merit – which currently suffocate the efficiency of the existing process. Whilst business leaders welcome the registration fee concept, they are far from convinced about the non-fundable fee element.

Employment lawyers are concerned about the inherent fairness of the proposals. Owen Warnock, partner at Eversheds has said,

“Many of the claimants are people who’ve just lost their jobs so they don’t have very much money. Saying to someone who’s been unfairly dismissed ‘you can’t win your claim unless you put a lump of money in’ doesn’t seem a very fair way of offering them recompense”.

So what’s your view – should the Government press ahead with the registration and non-refundable fee concept, or tackle weeding out spurious claims?


By | 2017-07-30T12:23:30+01:00 February 7th, 2011|Categories: Dean Shoesmith|2 Comments


  1. Lucasta Grayson 8th February 2011 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    Hello Dean,

    This is a really thorny issue. From an employers side it is frustrating to agree settlements with claimants, however small, when we know that we have followed procedures correctly and fairly dismissed because to defend the case would be more costly.

    On the other hand I have been an Employment Tribunal wing member for the last year and have seem a variety of cases including some where claimants with good cases have presented their own cases successfully and may well have been deterred by the requirement to pay a fee.

    More power to Employment Judges to weed out the cases without merit at an early stage would be the best solution and I dont think these proposals provide this.


  2. Dean Shoesmith 15th February 2011 at 8:44 am - Reply

    Hello Lucasta,

    Thank you very much for your comment…it’s interesting to hear your views given your highly relevant expereince of being an employment tribunal wing member. I agree with you that more needs to be done to weed out cases without merit as soon as possible to avoid the system becoming log-jammed; as it is at present. The cynic in me wonders whether the concept of a fee levy is more about ‘stealth’ tax to raise cash than it is about deterring spurious claims?

    Best wishes


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