Legal fees for claims against employers welcomed

Kim Pattullo says a great deal of resources are wasted on groundless tribunal claims. Picture: Comp
Kim Pattullo says a great deal of resources are wasted on groundless tribunal claims. Picture: Comp
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The introduction of fees for employees who bring a claim against their employer has been welcomed by some Scottish lawyers.

Fewer employment tribunals will be brought against businesses in Scotland, according to one firm.

Kim Pattullo, head of the employment team in Scotland for law firm HBJ Gateley, has said she thinks the new legislation will result in a fall in the number of tribunals.

“A huge amount of time and effort is currently wasted each year as HR departments across the country deal with what turn out to be groundless tribunal claims,” she said.

“The changes should help ensure that legitimate claims are dealt with effectively and in a timely manner.

“The tribunal service has been under a huge amount of pressure in recent years and spurious claims cost the Government, and Scottish businesses, a huge amount of money every year.”

Deterrent

Another employment lawyer said these changes would help cut out “frivolous” claims.

Eilidh Wiseman, a partner in the employment team at Dundas & Wilson, said: “I believe anything which helps reduce frivolous claims and speeds up the tribunal system will be welcomed by employers.

“Although fees may act as a deterrent, they should not affect those who are low paid.

“A new system will be introduced for those who cannot afford the fees to have those waived or reduced.

“A successful claimant should also expect any fee to be paid back as part of any settlement.

“One of the effects of the new system should be a rise in the value of settlement offers for low-value claims. Offering £500 as an economic offer to settle is not likely to be attractive to a claimant who has paid £1,200 to bring a claim.”

A number of other changes to UK employment law, including rules to reduce formality and speed up the process of employment tribunals, will be introduced today.

Ms Wiseman said: “The good news for employers is that one of the other changes introduced will see a cap on claims for unfair dismissal.

“Currently the cap is £74,200, but from Monday July 29, the cap will be the lower of £74,200 or one year’s salary.

“This is a welcome change as it help manage employees expectations when bringing a claim and provides greater certainty to employers when negotiating any claim.”