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ARC Legal : government should rethink employment tribunal fees

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The government’s plan to introduce employment tribunal fees reveals a lack of consultation on access to justice.

Proposals announced by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to charge individuals fees of up to £2000 or more to bring employment tribunal cases will not achieve a reduction in tribunal hearings but will increase claims costs for legal expenses insurers according to Arc Legal Assistance (Arc Legal) who is calling on the government to rethink its approach.

The MoJ has heralded its proposals to charge a fee to individuals to use the tribunal service as a way of reducing the cost burden on taxpayers and to relieve the pressure on businesses facing unnecessary claims.  However, as the majority of these cases are being funded by before the event legal expenses or trade unions, Arc Legal says such a move will be ineffective and is at odds with the government’s support for legal expenses provision to improve access to justice.

Commenting on the plan Richard Finan, Director of Arc Legal, said: “The move shows a lack of joined up thinking by government. While encouraging the use of low cost add-on Before the Event Legal Expenses as a viable alternative to funding access to justice, they are now looking to bring in plans that will increase costs for the insurers underwriting these products.”

“Our solicitor panel already undertakes a rigorous assessment of the prospects of success of these cases and as a result we are already actively policing employment tribunal claims to prevent unnecessary cases reaching tribunal hearings. Legislation, such as the pending increase in the qualification period for unfair dismissal claims, is a more effective tool to prevent abuse of the tribunal system.”

“It will be incumbent on insurers to look at ways to reduce the impact of such a fee on the cost of cover. This could be through changes in cover or exclusions rather than increase in premiums and as such may limit rather than improve access to justice.”

Source : ARC Legal Assistance