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Employment lawyers are predicting a surge of claims being brought under conditional fee arrangements (CFAs) following changes to the law which this week raised the maximum award for unfair dismissal in employment tribunals to £50,000.The changes came into force on Monday (25 October) as part of the Employment Relations Act.The previous £12,000 cap is thought to have acted as a major bar to CFAs, as typical legal costs for a claimant of around £5,000 would leave little left for claimants after the uplifted legal bill is taken into account.It is also believed that the spread of CFAs will lead to an increase in claims by staff against employers who would previously have been put off by the prohibitive cost of a court battle.Other measures being enacted under the new Employment Relations Act include the removal of compensation limits for staff dismissed for whistleblowing in the public interest and the abolition of fixed-term contract waivers, which had prevented trainees from suing employers that do not employ them following an apprenticeship.Georgina Keane, employment head at Richards Butler, told Legal Week that the £50,000 limit would have a “dynamic” effect on the use of CFAs in employment disputes.Fraser Younson, an employment partner at McDermott Will & Emery, said: “The short and sharp answer is that there are going to be more cases brought and more cases fought.”The move comes as CFAs are expected to become more common in court litigation. A case taken on by Richards Butler last year involved a claim for half a million pounds. It is understood that another firm has agreed to handle a claim for as much as £3m.

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