Employment Law Changes

Historically the Employment Tribunal was one jurisdiction which sought to offer 'a justice for all' approach.

No costs were payable to initiate a claim and usually no costs were awarded to a winning party. This allowed employees who considered that they had been treated unfairly or discriminated against, to bring a claim against their employer/former employer, without any cost barriers to prevent them.

Arguably, this did lead to spurious claims being issued, which put employers to cost to defend them. However, it did ensure that the Tribunals’ services were readily available for all employees, regardless of status and financial means.

This has now changed, and claimants are required to pay an issue fee of between £160 to £250 to commence a claim and a further £230 or £950 (depending upon the type of case), if the matter is to proceed to a hearing. This may be reduced or waived entirely if the claiment is on certain benefits or a low income.

These up front costs will no doubt reduce the number of vexatious and spurious claims in the Tribunal, but at what cost …  a claimant who is already in a difficult financial position having lost their job may be put off making a valid claim because of these up front costs? Also, given the strict time limits that are applicable to claims in the Tribunal, it will not be possible for that claimant to wait until their financial position has improved.

Employers will be less inclined to negotiate until later on in the proceedings, in the knowledge that a 'listing fee' must be paid before the case can even be listed for hearing. This tactically plays into the hands of the employers.

Saying all that, potential claimants should not be deterred from seeking advice. Here at Sarginsons Law, we are able to offer an initial free interview to assess the validity and strength of any case and explain in full, the potential costs consequences that flow from taking a case.

Furthermore, Sarginsons Law offer a number of ways to fund any claim whether it be on a fixed fee basis, a no win no fee, through legal insurance or through a contingency fee. We are confident that if you have a claim to pursue, that we would be able to find a way for you to fund that case.

For employers, it is still advisable to avoid litigation and of course well drafted employment contracts and grievance procedures will all help to minimise the possibility of cases becoming litigious.

Whether you are an employer or employee and require advice regarding any employment issue, please contact Katie Kearns on 024 7655 3181 or email: kkearns@s-law.co.uk