The HM Courts & Tribunals Service has confirmed that on 29 July 2013 the fees system will be implemented in the Employment Tribunals and Employment Appeal Tribunal. This means that from that date onwards, a person who is submitting a claim in the Employment Tribunal or submitting an appeal in the Employment Appeal Tribunal will need to pay a fee or provide an application for remission against the fee. A further fee will also be payable if the claim or appeal reaches a hearing.
In the Employment Tribunals, the fee to be paid will depend on the type of claim being commenced. Level 1 claims comprise straightforward or low value claims such as unpaid wages, redundancy payments and payments in lieu of notice. A Level 1 claim will cost £160 to issue, and a further £230 for a hearing. Level 2 claims comprise all other claims, including unfair dismissal, discrimination, equal pay and whistleblowing claims. A Level 2 claim will cost £250 to issue, and a further £950 for a hearing. If multiple claims are listed, the fee payable would be that which relates to the highest level claim. There will be different fee structures in place for claims brought against an employer by multiple individuals. There are also other fees relevant to specific circumstances, such as £100 payable by a Respondent to set aside a default judgment or £60 to apply to dismiss a claim following a claim’s settlement or withdrawal. An Employment Judge will have the discretion to require a Respondent to repay the fees to the Claimant, and it is expected that this will usually apply where the Claimant wins.
In the Employment Appeal Tribunal there will be a fee of £400 to issue an appeal, and a fee of £1,200 to proceed to an appeal hearing.
The fee system will be subject to the remission system as currently used in the Civil Courts. This means a Claimant may have the fee reduced depending on their personal income and family circumstances. The remission system is not easy to navigate and the Government also plans to overhaul the system in October 2013 in any event!
The impact of introducing fees is unknown, although it is anticipated that it will reduce the number of claims and possibly deter Claimants from issuing claims that have little merit to see if they can get a financial settlement. However, the price may be that it also deters Claimants who have valid claims. We also question whether the HM Courts and Tribunals Service has the resources to deal with the introduction of fees and it seems likely that there will be quite a few teething problems as the system beds down in the Employment Tribunals, which have not had to deal with any type of fees or charges since their beginnings in 1964.
The introduction of fees has also been considered as a controversial political move by some, and UNISON has in the past few days applied for a judicial review of the decision to introduce fees on the basis that it will prevent people exercising their EU rights. We will keep you updated on the outcome of the judicial review. In the meantime, we will all have to get to grips with this new system.
If you would like to talk through a situation you are dealing with, or if you need advice on any aspect of employment law, please contact any member of the Pure Employment Law team (01243 836840 or [email protected].uk).
Please note that this update is not intended to be exhaustive or be a substitute for legal advice. The application of the law in this area will often depend upon the specific facts and you are advised to seek specific advice on any given scenario.