Employment Tribunal To Charge Fees From Summer 2013

Unlike the High Court of the County Court, no fees are currently charged by the Government in respect of applications made to the Employment Tribunal. However, from the Summer of 2013 fees will be charge when a claim is brought in the Employment Tribunal or if an appeal is made against an Employment Tribunal decision.

This is part of the Government’s Employment Law Review which aims to stream line and modernise the employment tribunals system, including routing claims to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (“ACAS”) to attempt conciliation before going to the Tribunal. Tax payers will continue to fund the full cost of ACAS.

In this way it is hoped that the people who use the system will start to contribute towards the cost of running the system, which is estimated to cost in the region of £84m a year.

However, the principal of remission of fees used in the courts will also apply to the Employment Tribunal, so that applicants who receive certain benefits or cannot afford the fees because they are on a low income can apply for the fees to be waived or reduced.

It remains to be seen whether the number of spurious or low value claims will diminish. Fees are not likely to deter an out of work employee from bringing a claim, because in those circumstances a remission of fees is likely. However, it is possible that claims by workers whose employment continues (e.g. for unlawful deduction of wages or discrimination), or by a former employee who quickly finds another job may diminish, or be dealt with by way of ACAS conciliation instead.

How much are the fees going to be?

The fees are payable in advance and in two stages – on issue of proceedings and before the hearing (with a refund of part of the fee if the case settles early)

It is proposed that there will be 2 levels: Level 1 for straightforward claims such as unpaid wages, notice monies or redundancy payments etc. Level 2 claims will be the more complex cases, such as unfair dismissal or a discrimination claim.

The proposed fees are:

Level 1: issue fee - £160 Hearing fee: £230

Level 2: issue fee - £250 Hearing fee: £950

Can these fees be recovered from the other party?

It is proposed that the Tribunal will have a discretion to order the unsuccessful party to reimburse these fees to the successful party (assuming that party to the Claimant). Of course, the Tribunal already has power to make a costs order, and it remains to be seen if the Tribunal will make more costs orders than it currently does if it is also being asked to consider making orders to reimburse fees.

If you wish to discuss any issue arising from this article, or any employment issue contact Janet Long by email to j.long@pj-h.co.uk

The contents of this article are intended for general information only. It is not a substitute for legal advice, and shall not be deemed to be or constitute legal advice. We therefore cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article. We will, however, be pleased to advise you on the specific facts of your case