I spoke in todays 'Questions to the Secretary of State for Justice'. Firstly I asked what compensation the Government is thinking about offering to those who were unable to access justice due to Employment Tribunal Fees.
Employment Tribunal Fees were introduced by the Government in 2013. Prior to this, it was free to submit a claim to the Tribunal and to go to a hearing. However, after the introduction of fees it could cost up to £1,200 just to have your case heard. Unsurprisingly after this Employment Tribunal claims reduced by 79%. Furthermore these fees indirectly discriminated against women, who were more likely than men to suffer discrimination at work.
Fees were declared unlawful by the Supreme Court in July 2017. In response the Government have stated that they will end Employment Tribunal Fees immediately and make steps to compensate those who have already paid them. But for thousands of workers who had good claims and could not afford to pursue them, the decision comes too late.
My second question concerned what the Government intends to do to ensure that the sentencing guidelines of people who commit animal welfare crimes are reviewed and strengthened. Currently the maximum sentence for a crime is six months, which is completely unacceptable, compare this to the maximum sentence of five years in Northern Ireland.