Acas have now released their Conciliation Update for the period of April to December 2017 and the results are somewhat unsurprising given the statistics released by the Ministry of Justice’s for the period from October to December 2017. The MOJ report showed a huge increase of 90% in Employment Tribunal claims (not including those where the claim is made by two or more Claimants) compared to the same quarter in 2016. This upsurge in claims has been widely, and understandably so, attributed to the Supreme Court’s decision back in July 2017, which concluded that the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal Fees Order 2013 was unlawful and that the fees set out therein should no longer be charged.
When we look at the “Early Conciliation Notifications” statistics, the impact of this landmark decision is once again evident. Between the start of April 2017 and the end of July, Acas received around 1,700 notifications per week. Since the aforementioned Supreme Court ruling, this has risen to around 2,200 notifications per week.
Whilst not every Early Conciliation Notification, setting aside those that settle at this stage, will result in a claim actually been made, the removal of fees does mean that this eventuality is now more likely. Consider the employee / former employee with a borderline case that could easily go either way. With their money on the line, would they progress it? That would likely have depended on the potential pay out and their ability to pay the fee. Now the fee has been removed, the level of risk for a Claimant progressing their case is significantly reduced.
Cheryl Moolenschot, Litigation Consultant at EML, comments:
“Whilst those Claimants who bring vexatious, malicious or misconceived claims, or those who act unreasonably during the claims process may still find themselves facing costs orders, those Claimants whose claims have at least a reasonable chance of success have much less to lose. Where once an Employer might have reverted during Early Conciliation with the proverbial “put your money where your mouth is”, for many Claimants this is no longer an issue, either in respect of self-representation or “no win no fee” arrangements.”
So, in practice what does this mean for your business? Well the reports and statistics mentioned in this post reiterate the importance of addressing employment issues appropriately! The weaker the claim, the less likely it is to be brought in the first place. Therefore, when in doubt, pick up the phone and let us guide you through the Employment Law minefield.