Responses to Employment Tribunal fee consultation
15th October, 2012
It is currently free for individuals to bring an employment tribunal claim. Last year the Government announced its intention to introduce a fee system into the employment tribunals; and earlier this year the Government published the results of its consultation on this proposal with a view to implement the system by summer 2013. Given that the current system is said to cost £84 million annually, the Government states that it hopes that the introduction of fees will help improve the state of the economy.
The new fee system for single claims will be split into two groups; level one claims and level two claims (rather than the three which were originally proposed):
- Level one claims will be those relating to payments which become due on termination of employment; such as claims for payment in lieu of notice, redundancy payments and unpaid wages. The issue fee for level one claims will be £160 and the hearing fee will be £230, payable in advance by the person bringing the claim.
- Level two claims will be those relating to unfair dismissal, discrimination, equal pay claims (and claims which arise under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998). The issue fee for level two claims will be £250 and the hearing fee will be £950.
- The fee for bringing an appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal will be £400 and the hearing fee will be £1,200.
There will also be a separate fee structure for those wanting to bring multiple claims in the employment tribunal. However, it is planned that those on lower incomes will not have to pay the full fees; similar to the system which already exists for those who use the civil courts’ service.
The Government states that the introduction of fees as part of its Employment Law Review will “maximise flexibility for both employers and employees while protecting fairness and providing a competitive business environment”. The Government plans to review the fee system’s implementation once it’s in place. It is also important to bear in mind the high costs already incurred by employers in defending employment tribunal claims; which can be entirely without merit.
It may be that the fees collected will be largely swallowed up in the administration of managing the new system, but it will be interesting to see the effect on the number of claims which are brought; and whether it will make some individuals think twice about bringing a claim. These factors only serve to highlight the debate relating to access to justice. It is without a doubt that the advice of specialist employment lawyers will be increasingly important once the fees are introduced given that the employment tribunal system will become even more complex.
For further information, please contact Claire Brook on 01244 405575 or send an e-mail to [email protected]