News added on 19.09.2017


Employment tribunal claims

Annual employment tribunal statistics published

The government has published the latest employment tribunal and employment appeal tribunal (EAT) statistics. What do the numbers reveal and, now that fees have been abolished, what might the future hold for tribunal claims? 

The government’s latest statistics tables show that the number of accepted employment tribunal claims in 2016/17 was 88,476, comprising 17,005 single claims and 71,471 multiple claims. This is an increase compared to 2015/16 which saw 83,031 claims accepted, but is still significantly below the 191,451 claims accepted in 2012/13, the last complete year before the introduction of employment tribunal fees.

The statistics also show that:

  • 45% of all cases were withdrawn or settled before a tribunal hearing; 11% were struck out by the tribunal without a hearing; 24% were dismissed by the tribunal upon withdrawal; 5% were disposed of through a default judgment or dismissed at a preliminary hearing; 5% were unsuccessful at tribunal hearing and only 6% were successful at tribunal hearing
  • 86% of claimants now have legal representation at tribunal, with a further 2% being represented by their trade union
  • the maximum unfair dismissal award was £1,744,576 and the average (mean) award was £16,543
  • the maximum race discrimination award was £456,464 and the average award was £36,853
  • the maximum sex discrimination award was £127,230 and the average award was £19,152
  • the maximum disability discrimination award was £302,258 and the average award was £31,988
  • the maximum religious discrimination award was £74,648 and the average award was £20,344
  • the maximum sexual orientation discrimination award was £8,460 and the average award was £6,026
  • the maximum age discrimination award was £154,309 and the average award was £35,663
  • awards of compensation were made in 587 unfair dismissal cases but only in 158 discrimination cases
  • costs were awarded to the claimant in 297 cases and to the respondent in 182 cases and the average costs award was £3,747
  • the EAT received 889 appeals but 442 of these were rejected at the sift stage as having no reasonable prospect of success or as being out of time.

Following the Supreme Court’s ruling in R (on the application of Unison) v Lord Chancellor 2017 that employment tribunal and EAT fees are unlawful, fees are now no longer payable for lodging or pursuing new claims before the employment tribunal or for lodging appeals before the EAT. All fees paid by claimants since 29 July 2013 are also to be reimbursed by the government. The abolition of fees will inevitably lead to a large increase in the number of tribunal claims brought by claimants. It’s too early to predict whether the number of claims will return to, or even exceed, their pre-2013 levels, but the fact that claimants must now go through mandatory Acas early conciliation before bringing most types of claim may at least help keep some potential claims out of tribunal.

What is likely to happen though, at least for the financial year 2017/18, is that we will see a sudden sharp spike in claims because it seems that the government intends to take administrative steps shortly to reinstate all claims that were struck out since July 2013 on the ground of non-payment of fees. Plus, as regards those claims that were never brought in the first place because of the deterrent effect of the high level of fees then in force, some claimants will now try to bring their claims out of time.

Employment tribunal fees continued to suppress the number of tribunal claims in 2016/17. However, with the recent abolition of fees, the number of claims is set to escalate in 2017/18, particularly as the government plans to reinstate all claims struck out since July 2013 for non-payment of fees. When a claim is brought, although there’s currently only a 6% chance of the claimant winning their case at a tribunal hearing, you shouldn’t be complacent in your employment and dismissal practices as average unfair dismissal and discrimination awards are now generally falling in the £15,000 to £35,000 bracket.

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