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Tribunal Claims Fall ‘Brings Government’s Reform Proposals Into Focus’

Specialist Comments On New Annual Figures


New figures which show a fall in the number of employment tribunals in the UK have brought the government’s consultation on reforming the system into the spotlight, according to an expert at Irwin Mitchell.

Published by HM Courts and Tribunals Service, the official annual research has revealed an eight per cent fall in claims over the period of April 2010 to March 2011, when compared to the same period 12 months earlier.

It also revealed that single claims dropped by 15 per cent, with both unfair dismissal and redundancy claims falling. In contrast, it was revealed that age discrimination claims rose by around a third.

Fergal Dowling, a Partner and employment law specialist at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office, said these latest statistics were somewhat unexpected.

He outlined: “Previous evidence from earlier this year, from the Senior President of Tribunals, showed that the number of claims rose by 56 per cent across 2009 to 2010, with there being little reason to suggest the rise would ease.

“However, these new figures indicate a slight reverse in the trend, which is particularly interesting as the government is continuing to consider potential reforms to the tribunal system with a view to reducing the large number of claims and ensure disputes can be dealt with effectively and quickly.

“Proposals include encourage pre-claim conciliation and the extension of jurisdictions where judges can sit alone, as well as the possible introduction of a fee. It will be interesting to see if suggestions of this fall will impact on those plans in any respect.”

Fergal added that while the general fall in claims is positive for employers, the increase seen in age discrimination claims is something they will need to bear in mind.

He outlined: “With the changes on Default Retirement Age currently being phased in, it is vital that employers who are yet to seriously consider the issue assess how the changes will affect their workforce if they are to be protected from changes.

“A failure to recognise the issue means organisations may run the risk of age-related and unfair dismissal claims, so we would urge any employers that are still burying their heads in the sand on the issue to seek advice quickly.”