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How much is a tribunal likely to award for a claim? An update from the past year

BY Ben Brown
Employment Law & HR

Since Employment Tribunal (ET) fees were declared unlawful in 2017, we have seen a steady rise in the number of cases being brought before the ET.  However, because the Tribunal reporting year runs from April to March, the 2018/19 employment tribunal statistics are the first to show a full 12-month period since fees were abolished.  Unsurprisingly, the number of claims made has increased, as has the overall number of awards made.   

From 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019 a total of 121,111 Employment Tribunal applications were made.  Whilst this is another marked increase compared to 109,685 in 2017/18 there is still a long way to go to get to the highest pre-fee figure of 191,541 in 2012/13. It may well be that tribunal applications never reach pre-fee highs again as the mandatory Acas conciliation process was introduced in April 2014.

Whilst the increase in the number of claims has been relatively predictable, the report also details the maximum and average awards granted by the Employment Tribunals for any particular type of claim.  Suffice to say, an exact valuation of a claim is extremely difficult as every situation will inevitably come down to the individual facts and merits of a case. However, this data does provide a useful guide as to the ballpark amounts that a tribunal might award.  

The full report giving details of claim data since 2007 as well as all other types of claim can be found here.  To pick out some general trends, the average award amounts have dropped in comparison to the previous year almost across the board, although there are exceptions to the trend. The highest sum awarded in an Employment Tribunal claim in the reporting period was £947,585 which was awarded in an unfair dismissal claim (bearing in mind that the usual statutory cap of £86,444 for unfair dismissal claims does not apply in certain circumstances). 

The largest award in a discrimination claim was £416,015 which was awarded for disability discrimination.   However, there was an overall decrease in the number of awards made in discrimination claims from 136 in 2017/18 to 103 in 2018/19.

Finally, the number of costs awards granted has taken a dramatic drop.  This was reported at 209 orders granted, having previously remained static at 479 for the previous two years.   As would be expected, of the total 209, more cost awards were made to employers rather than claimants with the figures being 158 and 51 respectively.

Predicting the value of a claim is notoriously difficult so if you have any questions with regard to any of claim amounts detailed above, or an outstanding employment tribunal claim, please get in touch with your dedicated Employment Solicitor who can provide more detail.

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