ET fees: still no evidence for the Hancock Theorem

In more than one previous post on this blog, I have included charts showing how – up to the second quarter of 2014-15, at least – the evidence from the Ministry of Injustice’s quarterly tribunal statistics strongly counters the theory, advanced by the former BIS minister Matt Hancock (now at the Cabinet Office) and his friends in the media, that the introduction of hefty ET fees in July 2013 has since deterred only weak or vexatious claims, without deterring well-founded claims. For the charts show that – contrary to what one would expect, were the Hancock Theorem a valid one – the proportion of claims that are ultimately successful has fallen, and the proportion of claims that are ultimately unsuccessful has risen.

Somewhat annoyingly, when the Ministry released the tribunal statistics for the third quarter of 2014-15 (i.e. October to December 2014) in March, I was unable to update my charts because the ET outcome figures are given only as percentages, and those percentages were grossly distorted to the point of being meaningless by the settlement (and disposal by being ‘struck out’) during the quarter of one exceptionally large airline multiple claimant case involving some 240,000 jurisdictional claims.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 16.10.16

On 15 March, therefore, I emailed the Ministry of Injustice to request the base figures from which the Q3 outcome percentages were calculated. And today, after a couple of chasing emails, the Ministry finally replied – without the figures I had requested but with an explanation of how I could calculate them myself by cross-referencing two of the tables in the statistical bulletin. How helpful of them.

And so, after many hours sweating over a hot Excel spreadsheet, I have calculated the figures I need to add the third quarter of 2014-15 to my outcome charts. In doing so, I have excluded disposed claims made under the two jurisdictional headings of Working Time and Unauthorised Deductions, because – as well as the 243,606 Working Time claims that were struck out – unusually large numbers of Working Time and Unauthorised Deductions claims were withdrawn, and I assume that many if not most of those jurisdictional claims were also part of the airline case (or a related case). This exclusion might well have introduced a minor distortion of its own, but I can’t see any obvious way around that (though I’m expecting a tweet or email from Michael Reed any time now). Whatever, the tribunal statistics for the fourth quarter of 2014-15 will be published on 11 June, and I’ll update my charts again then.

Here are the updated charts. Enjoy.

Outcomes1 May 2015

From this chart, we can see that both ‘successful claims’ and ‘unsuccessful claims’ – in the strictest sense – have continued to move in the wrong direction, as far as the Hancock Theorem is concerned. Similarly, the second chart, below, shows that the broader measure of ‘successful’ claims – including those that are conciliated by Acas or withdrawn (in most cases following settlement) – has also continued to fall. Yet, according to the Hancock Theorem, this measure of ‘successful’ claims should by now be nearing 100 per cent – all the weak and vexatious claims having been deterred by fees.