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Published on 21/07/2020

I am a little behind commenting on this interesting item reported by Legal Futures as their bulletin got gobbled up by my junk folder, but on retrieving this, it is well worth a read. Legal Futures have summarised findings from a BEIS survey conducted back in 2018 but which was only published last week.


The main aims of the 2018 study were:

  • to obtain information on the characteristics of employment tribunal claimants and employers;
  • to assess the costs of going to tribunals for claimants and employers;
  • to monitor the performance of the employment tribunal claim process.

The survey was carried out by interviewing roughly similar numbers of employees and employers taken from a sample of cases. In total 2663 interviews were completed.
Although there are many curious facts and figures, my main interest is the availability of legal representation to resolve employment disputes.

  • In all, 46% of claimants used a lawyer for some or all of the proceedings.
    Notable outliers in the data were those aged under 25 (just 24% used a lawyer), black claimants (33%), those earning less than £20,000 (33%), and those working in skilled trades (29%) and sales and customer service (33%).
    The use of a lawyers was more common among claimants with larger salaries and/or in more advanced/senior occupations.
    Claimants also used trade union representatives, Citizens Advice, and friends and family, while employers also turned to HR specialists.
  • In all, 70% of employers and 57% of claimants had a ‘day-to-day representative’ of some sort to help them with their case.
    Employers were far more likely to have legal representation at hearings, 77%, compared to claimants (41%).
    The main reasons for not having representation were being unable to afford it (58% of claimants, 15% of employers) and thinking that they could handle the hearing on their own (20% of claimants, 57% of employers).
  • The median amount paid in fees was £5,000 for employers and £2,500 for claimants, up from £3,000 and £2,000 respectively in 2012.

I am really concerned that 58% of claimants did not feel able to afford the cost of legal representation. Access to justice is a basic human right but this is completely understandable at the time an individual has lost their job. These findings bring the value of Family and Commercial Legal Expenses insurance into sharp focus. For a modest premium, consumers and businesses can obtain a full package of covers which includes representation throughout employment disputes and telephone legal advice.
Here’s a link to the full article.

Disclaimer - all information in this article was correct at time of publishing.