Commercial law firm says a 'rush' to get unfair dismissal claims heard before a new Bill kicks in has led to a spike in cases being bought

Firms are set to face less spurious unfair dismissal claims in the future thanks to Government plans despite a current spike in the number of cases, a law firm is predicting.

But commercial law firm EMW says the rush to get cases heard before the legislation kicks in is putting the employment tribunal process under heavy pressure.

If found that the second quarter of last year had seen 15,300 claims of unfair dismissal made, compared to the 10,600 made during the previous three-month period.

The firm says the near 50% increase is down to employees looking to rush their claims through before Government plans to restrict unfair dismissal cases at employment tribunals and bringing in a fee for those taking their claims to court come into force.

The law firm has published the figures after obtaining them through an inquiry made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Jon Taylor, a spokesman for EMW, said the Government proposals would "significantly limit" the advantages of pursuing an unfair dismissal claim against an employer.

He said the Government hoped that would cut down on the number of "spurious" claims being made against employers in the future.

But he said since the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill had been announced in May last year, employees had been "racing" to get their claims in under the current regime and before the new rules came into force. And that, he added, had helped prompt a "spike" in the number of claims being made.

Mr Taylor said the extra claims that employees were making ahead of the "impending deadline" would put the already under-pressure employment tribunal process under even more strain.

He added: "The system is struggling with an ever-growing backlog of cases still to be heard, leaving employers and employees in limbo as they wait for their cases to be resolved."

The Bill's new measures will see former employees only being able to claim up to one year's pay or 74,200 - whichever is lower - from their old employer for an unfair dismissal, a cap which could be lowered in the future.

Meanwhile, ex-employees will also have to pay a 250 fee to make a claim and a 950 charge if the case goes forward to an employment tribunal. At the moment no fees are charged.

Copyright Press Association 2013