In July 2017 the presidents of the Employment Tribunals issued a joint judicial consultation on the proposed changes to the Vento guidelines.
The Vento Bands were established in the Court of Appeal case, Vento v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police. Three bands of compensation for injury to feelings awards to be were identified as follows:
- Less serious cases (lower band) – £500 - £5,000
- Serious cases (middle band) - £5,000 - £15,000
- Most serious cases (upper band) - £15,000 - £25,000, with exceptional serious cases exceeding £25,000.
There was then a 20% uplift to the bands (in line with inflation in 2009) by the Employment Appeal Tribunal in Da’Bell v NSPCC and it was advised that Tribunals could adjust the bands in individual cases where there is ‘cogent evidence’ of rate change in the value of money.
The recent judicial consultation intends to bring clarification following the Court of Appeal’s ruling in Pereira de Souza v Vinci Construction UK Ltd that the 10% uplift to general damages in civil claims for matters such as pain and suffering or mental distress (the Simmons v Castle uplift) should correspond to injury to feelings in awards from the Tribunal.
The Presidential Guidance considers adjustment to the Vento figures for inflation. It seeks confirmation whether this is the correct measure to be applied, especially as it is used for assessment of general damages in personal injury cases.
The Guidance states that the new bands would apply to any claim presented on or after the date of its publication and the bands would then be uprated every 12 months thereafter without further consultation and based upon the most recent RPI value available. The bands would be rounded up or down to the nearest £1,000.
The Presidents are seeking responses by Friday, 25 August 2017 on whether RPI is the appropriate index in connection with uprating of awards and a stance on the proposed approach of the Vento bands.
An uplift of the Vento bands will in no doubt encourage early settlement, and employers should consider Settlement Agreements as an alternative to Tribunal proceedings, especially in less serious cases as the recent UNISON fees ruling means more claims are likely to be brought.