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Suggestions that employee relations are becoming less combative have been dashed by official figures, just released, showing a 15% increase in Employment Tribunals in 2006-7. This follows a 34% increase the previous year.

A total of 132,577 claims were accepted by employment tribunals (115,039 in 2005-6) raising 238,546 jurisdictions (specific matters for complaint), an increase on last year’s jurisdictions per claim. Hearings take over a week, in most instances.

Legal expenses insurer DAS says that costs nearly always have to be paid by each side, regardless of who wins. Funding both employee and commercial defence cases at tribunals, the insurer reports that figures have been swelled by a large number of local authority equal pay cases and, for the first time, age discrimination claims.

"Equal pay now tops the complaints list alongside unfair dismissal", says Lyndon Willshire, DAS UK Sales Manager. "Both accounted for 44,000 jurisdictions, while the age discrimination time bomb is ticking away.

"Nearly 1000 age discrimination complaints were heard yet the new laws only applied from last October, half way through the reporting period".

For businesses, the risk of being taken to tribunal is greater than ever, making cover against spiralling legal defence costs and punitive awards an absolutely essential component of business insurance packages.

The shock rise in claims follows an earlier, discredited report from Acas suggesting a fall. Even their revised figures under-estimated the number of tribunal claims by some 28,000.

"With around a quarter of a million jurisdictions, the statistical probability of a claim is now one per 100 employees, each year", adds Mr Willshire. "This is why we combine our unrestricted EPL product (Employment Practices Legal protection) with a risk management audit, 24-hour legal helplines plus alerts from, and links to, our business information website. These safeguards are also available for our Commercial Legal Protection policyholders.

Overall, the statistics show discrimination claims forming the bulk of the increases. Gender, race, religious belief and now age regularly feature in claims, often twinned with unfair dismissal.

It is also significant that in the 8% of cases initially rejected, a third were later admitted following resubmission.

"The government's attempts to reduce the number of claims going to tribunal have clearly only had a temporary effect", says Mr Willshire. "The three stage mandatory grievance procedure has not created a forum for mediation, rather a mechanism for concluding matters more efficiently. More legislation is on the way, and the effects of recent laws on age, belief and sexual orientation have yet to bite.

"Both sides have the right to a fair hearing yet the increases in legal costs, hassle and hearing times have made it imperative that representation is not hindered by a lack of funding. At DAS, we continue to make our legal protection covers more widely available, inclusive and affordable".


Wednesday, 05 September 2007


· Employment Tribunal statistics, 01 April 2006 to 31 March 2007.

· Acas annual report was reissued after it failed to account for 21,000 equal pay cases.

· Legal costs at Tribunals are only awarded in exceptional instances, such as malicious claims, amounting to just 509 of the 132,577 cases heard last year.

For further information please contact either:

Martin Francis, Albion International Communications, on 020 8668 3074 (mobile: 00 423 663 0884 34) []
Allan Jarrett, Communications Officer, DAS on 0117 934 2060 []
Paul Jacobs, Marketing Communications Manager, DAS, on 0117 934 2061 []

DAS Switchboard: 0117 934 2000


DAS Legal Expenses Insurance Company Limited
DAS House, Quay Side, Temple Back, Bristol BS1 6NH
(Tel: 0117 934 2000)

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