Ministry of Justice
Shailesh Vara, the Justice Minister, argued the government made the right decision to introduce the fee systemReuters

The number of claims submitted to employment tribunals across England, Scotland and Wales has dramatically dropped by a whopping 79% year-on-year after the government introduced a controversial fee regime.

According to the Ministry of Justice, the number of claims totalled 9,801 between October and December 2013.

The figure means there were 79% fewer claims than in the same period in 2012 and 75% less than the quarter before.

The data comes after the government controversially introduced fees for bringing a claim to an employment tribunal, which could mean disgruntled employees would have to shell out £1,200 for discrimination and unfair dismissal allegations.

"We saw an influx of claims lodged in late June and July last year prior to the introduction of fees," said Tom Flanagan, partner and national head of Employment at Irwin Mitchell.

"Since then we have noticed a large decrease in the number of claims being lodged, although the cases that are being pursued at Tribunal have become increasingly complex.

But Flanagan stressed that there are a number of other factors that could have influenced the latest figures.

The solicitor said one key reason could be the increase to two years of the qualification period for unfair dismissal.

In addition, there has also been a reduction in the number of multiple equal pay claims, particularly in the public sector as well as changes to the compensation cap for unfair dismissal.

Geoffrey Mead, an employment partner at Eversheds, said: "The fact that today's figures could serve to re-enforce a perception that the tribunal is less accessible casts an unwelcome shadow over future stability and certainty of the current system. Only time will tell."

Shailesh Vara, the Justice Minister, argued that it is "not fair" for the taxpayer to foot the entire £74m bill for people to "escalate workplace disputes" to a tribunal.

"That's why we are encouraging quicker, simpler and cheaper alternatives like mediation and arbitration," she explained.

"It is in everyone's interest to avoid drawn out disputes which emotionally damage workers and financially damage businesses."