Finally, this summer, (probably July), fees will be introduced for Employment Tribunal claims. In my view these have been a long time coming. Long gone are the days when Employment Tribunals were places where individuals could easily represent themselves and where the maximum sums being claimed were relatively low. These days employment legislation is significantly more complex than in the past and the tribunals are over-stretched.
Although the introduction of fees is no longer being promoted by the Government as a way of dissuading those with weak claims from pursuing them, but rather as a way of lessening the cost burden to the tax payer, it will no doubt result in a significant reduction in the number of weak and spurious claims brought, which is no bad thing .
Many people will no doubt argue that the introduction of fees is wrong when tribunal claims are most frequently brought by those who have lost their jobs (and hence their income) and are therefore most in need of free access to justice. I do have some sympathy for that view, however, there have always been issue fees for proceedings in the Civil Courts and this hasn’t deterred people from pursuing their claims. I cannot see why the Employment Tribunals should be any different. Furthermore, there will be a system for remission of fees for those with very low incomes and who satisfy other criteria. As a lawyer who has spent over 13 years representing both Claimants and Respondents, it is apparent to me that a significant number of claims are brought simply because the Claimant has nothing to lose and might get a pay off just because he or she has issued proceedings. I am therefore very much in favour of anything which may serve to deter the pursuance of such claims.
Similarly, anyone with a really meritorious claim who doesn’t qualify for a remission of fees should be able to find the means to pay the issue fee, especially as such money will be recouped either upon settlement or at the end of the trial in the likely event that the claim will succeed. Given that the introduction of fees should reduce the number of claims pursued, the time for cases to come to trial should reduce, with most simple 1 day trials being heard or settled within 6 months of the date of issue.
The fees will be as follows:
- level 1 claims (i.e. the very straightforward ones such as unlawful deductions from wages etc) – £160 issue fee; £230 hearing fee
- level 2 claims (all other claims) – £250 issue fee; £950 hearing fee
- Employment Appeal Tribunal – £400 appeal fee; £1,200 hearing fee
- there are several other fees, eg £60 for an application to dismiss following settlement and £600 for judicial mediation
You can find more information here: https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/et-fee-charging-regime-cp22-2011