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Scotland Set to Abolish Employment Tribunal Fees - 21st September 2015 - Click for larger version Scotland Set to Abolish Employment Tribunal Fees - 21st September 2015

The Scottish Government has recently announced its ‘Programme for Scotland’ which intends to provide for a “stronger Scotland” and “enhance opportunities for employment”. One of the announcements was the proposed abolition of employment tribunal fees.

The introduction of employment tribunal fees in July 2013 was highly controversial, the purpose of which was to reduce costs in the tribunal and allow workers to make a contribution to the tribunal system rather than have the tax payer foot the bill. The aim was also to end frivolous claims, however it is argued that the introduction of fees has limited access to justice to some workers.

The House of Commons Justice Select Committee recently launched an inquiry into court and tribunal fees. The Select Committee aims to seek information on whether the number and type of cases brought to the Employment Tribunal has been affected and whether fees are affecting access to justice.

It has been well reported that the number of employment tribunal claims have reduced significantly throughout the UK since fees were introduced. Statistics from tribunals show that the number of claims between April 2014 and March 2015 was 61,306. This compares to 191,541 claims between April 2012 and March 2013.

Will the abolition of fees increase the number employment tribunal claims thereby ‘opening the gates’ for vexatious claims? Or will the abolition of fees provide a rebalance between employers and employees and create “fair work” by giving employees access to justice?

The abolition of employment tribunal fees would form part of the plans to devolve the employment tribunals in Scotland to the newly created Scottish Courts and Tribunal service and will only be effective after the enactment of the Scotland Bill. At the moment it is unclear how a Scottish tribunal system would be funded and the timescale relative to the abolition of fees is also unclear.

As more information is made available we will provide further updates on this development.

For further information, or if you have any queries regarding employment matters, please contact Laura Forrest on 0141 248 4957 or laura@macdonaldhenderson.co.uk.

Last updated: 9.52am, Monday 21st September 2015

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