Vexatious Claims: Challenging the Case for Employment Tribunal Fees

Abi Adams and Jeremias Prassl


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 per cent. This paper suggests that this fee regime 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.

Published May 2017
Frequency Bi-Monthly
Volume 80
Issue 3
Print ISSN 0026-7961
Online ISSN 1468-2230