The government’s consultation on changes to the tribunal service, with a view to reducing the number of cases, has now closed. A survey by legal firm Eversheds on the proposed government reforms found that:

l 91% of its respondents supported the proposal to introduce a "formal offer" system, under which compensation may be increased or decreased if the other party declined to accept a reasonable offer of settlement. If no award of compensation were made, the tribunal might make a costs award against the party who refused the offer.

l 83% supported the introduction of fees for lodging employment tribunal claims.

l 78% believed that raising the unfair dismissal qualifying period from one to two years would result in a drop in claims.

Interestingly, this does not coincide with the views of many lawyers, who are sceptical that a change in qualifying periods would result in a decrease in claims, feeling that those without the required length of service often bring discrimination claims instead (which have no service requirement).

The number of claims may be falling anyway. The Tribunal Service’s quarterly statistics for 1 October 2010 to 31 December 2010 show a fall of 51% in the total number of claims, compared with the same quarter of 2009. But age discrimination claims more than doubled from 1,100 to 2,900 and pregnancy and sex discrimination also increased, by 47% and 27% respectively. The number of claims fell on working time, equal pay, redundancy, breach of contract and unfair dismissal.