Employment tribunal ruling will let in the ‘ambulance-chasing lawyers’ says Mersey HR expert

Victoria Brown’s warning comes days after the Supreme Court ruled that fees for those people looking to take employers to industrial tribunals were unlawful. Tony McDonough reports

Victoria Brown, founder of High Performance Consultancy in Liverpool


Leading Liverpool HR consultant Victoria Brown has warned the scrapping of fees for employment tribunals could reopen the door to law firm “ambulance-chasers”.

Ms Brown, founder of High Performance Consultancy (HPC), was responding to last week’s Supreme Court ruling that fees for those bringing claims was unlawful.

Legal challenge

Charges ranging from £390 up to £1,200 were introduced by ministers four years ago to cut down on what they claimed was a rise in malicious, frivolous and vexatious claims encouraged by opportunist lawyers.

However, the trade union Unison brought a legal challenge against the fees claiming people on low incomes who felt they had a case for unfair dismissal were being denied justice.

They also said it offered an incentive for unscrupulous employers to ride roughshod over employment law.

The Supreme Court ruling may mean the Government has to repay up to £32m to claimants who had paid the charges since 2013.

Rogue employers

Ms Brown conceded there was an issue with people on low incomes getting access to justice but says she is unsure having no fees at all is the answer.

She told YBNews: “While I do agree that there are some rogue employers in the UK,  I am not convinced that an abolition of tribunal fees immediately is the answer.  

“I accept that the 70% reduction in claims over the last three years cannot possibly be all the vexatious claims, and there must be genuine employees that have walked away from an injustice.

“However, from my personal experience of running a successful HR outsourced service for the last 10 years, I have witnessed the ridiculous games played by the ambulance chasers of the employment law field. 

Charges for tribunals mean people were denied access to justice, Unison claimed


“So many times the game has been played… the employee is terminated from a business and they see an advert on the TV or in the newspaper.

“If they are not asking you if you have been ill on holiday or had an accident in a car they are asking you if you have been dismissed recently from your place of work.

“There is little risk to the lawyer or claimant.”

Protection for firms

Ms Brown said there needs to be some protection to protect cash-strapped small firms who often have no choice to settle a claim, whatever its merits.

She explained: “It costs approximately £9,000 for an employer to defend a tribunal case. That is not an tribunal award, that is simply the costs to the business to put together the case and defend.

“Surprise, surprise we then have an offer to settle on the table by the claimant’s solicitor for £3,000.  Most of my clients are very commercially-minded so will just settle to put the matter to bed.

“Where is the justice for the employer?  Who is going to protect them from the chancers and the ambulance chasers?

I am not suggesting that employment tribunal fees are necessarily the best way to resolve these issues – it has always felt like the Government were trying to put a plaster over the problem, a common theme of late.

“The Government needs to find a way to resource the employment tribunal system in a more robust way.”

You might also like More from author

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Username field is empty.