After a brief pilot scheme, the full scheme for refunding Employment Tribunal (“ET”) fees is now open for use by both claimants and respondents.
The need to refund ET fees arises from the Supreme Court’s ruling in July that the system for charging fees to bring an ET claim was unlawful. Not only was the requirement to charge a fee to be removed immediately, but all fees already paid by users of the tribunal service since they were first introduced in July 2013 were to be refunded.
As reported in our previous article, the first stage of the refund scheme involved around 1,000 people being contacted individually and given a chance to apply for a refund. We now have full details about what the final scheme refund scheme involves. It can be used immediately by all claimants and respondents who have paid a fee during ET proceedings, or during an appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”). Refunds will be processed directly to the applicant’s bank account, together with interest at 0.5%.
Details of the scheme
There are various ways to apply for a refund:
- An online application process allows applicants to complete their details on a Government website. It appears from the introduction page that this online method is only open to individual claimants who either paid the fee themselves, or reimbursed a representative who paid a fee on their behalf.
- Refund Form 1-C can be used to apply for a refund by post or email, and is for claimants only. This can be used by individual claimants who paid the fee themselves, reimbursed their representative for a fee paid on their behalf, or were ordered to reimburse their opponent for a fee.
- Refund Form 3-S can be used by lead claimants in a multiple claim, on the basis that they will distribute the refund to the other claimants. It can also be used by representatives who paid fees on behalf of an individual or group of claimants, such as trade unions who have funded a claim.
- Refund Form 2-R is designed for respondents, allowing those who have paid a fee to claim a refund. It also covers the situation where a respondent was ordered to reimburse a claimant for ET fees.
The form for respondents confirms that an employer who has lost a case and been ordered to repay ET fees to a claimant can now claim a direct refund. It asks employers in this situation to provide a copy of the ET’s order requiring them to repay the claimant, together with proof of payment such as a copy receipt or bank statement. A refund may not be provided if an employer is unable to provide this supporting evidence.
The forms also make it clear that all types of fee can be reclaimed, not just fees for issuing a claim or having a hearing which were the subject of the Supreme Court’s decision. A list of fees is set out at the end of the form, which includes fees for: judicial mediation; reconsideration of a default judgment; reconsideration of judgment following a final hearing; dismissal following withdrawal; and employer contract claims. Employers who have been involved in ET proceedings in the past few years should think carefully about whether they are able to reclaim any fees. Even if they have not lost a case, one of these other types of fee might have been paid.
After an unexpectedly lengthy wait, the Government has launched the first stage of its scheme for refunding Employment Tribunal (“ET”) fees following the Supreme Court’s decision that the fees system was unlawful.
The Supreme Court (“SC”) has unanimously ruled that the legislation requiring fees to be paid for bringing Employment Tribunal (“ET”) claims is unlawful and should be quashed. In one of the most remarkable employment law judgments of recent times, the SC held that ET fees interfere unjustifiably with the right of access to justice and discriminate unlawfully against women.