Tribunal Fees

Vexatious Claims: Challenging the Case for Employment Tribunal Fees

Adams & Prassl (Forthcoming)

See upcoming Supreme Court Case here.

The Technical Appendix for this paper can be found here. All data sets and do files used for the analysis are here.

Since July 2013, recourse to Employment Tribunals in the United Kingdom has attracted fees of up to £1,200 for single claimants. The impact of this reform has been dramatic: within a year, claims dropped by nearly 80%. In this paper, we challenge the legality of the fee regime as introduced, suggesting that it is in clear violation of domestic and international norms, including Article 6(1) ECHR and the EU principle of effective judicial protection. Drawing on rational choice theory and empirical evidence, we argue that the resulting payoff structures, negative for the majority of successful claimants, strike at the very essence of these rights. The measures are furthermore disproportionate in light of the Government’s stated policy aims: fees have failed to transfer cost away from taxpayers, have failed to encourage early dispute resolution, and have failed to deter vexatious litigants. The only vexatious claims, we find, appear to be those which motivated the reforms in the first place.