The number of employment tribunal claims has plummeted by around 80% for the second consecutive quarter, following the introduction of fees, official figures revealed today. 

Claims dropped 81% between January to March 2014 to 6,019, compared with the same quarter in 2012/13, according to government statistics. In the last quarter of 2013 claims fell by 79%, compared with the last quarter of 2012.

Trade union Unison said today’s statistics ‘add significant weight to the union’s arguments that workers are being priced out of justice’.

Unison has been granted permission to appeal the High Court’s rejection of its judicial review challenging the introduction of tribunal fees.

The JR was dismissed in February on the basis that there was no quantifiable evidence at that point to assess the impact of the fees.

Dave Prentis (pictured), general secretary of Unison, said: ‘This downward spiral in the number of employment tribunal cases shows only too clearly that workers are being priced out of a fair hearing.

He said: ‘Today’s figures make shocking reading because individual claims are now at a perilously low level.’  

Tribunal fees were introduced on 29 July 2013 and start at around £160 to issue a claim, rising to £250 a claim, depending on the type, and a further hearing fee ranging from £230 to £950.

Richard Fox, head of employment law atLondonfirm Kingsley Napley, described the fall in claims as ‘drastic’ and ‘way outside government expectations when the fees regime was first introduced last July’. He said that Unison may be able to use the statistics in its judicial review challenge.

It is unclear what the overall fall in employment disputes is, as some claimants in employment cases are turning to county courts instead. Former tribunals president David Latham told the Gazette last week: ‘A lot of cases are going through the county courts as the fees are much cheaper, so we don’t know what the figure is.’