The Government has published a draft legislative Order (the Employment Tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal Fees Order 2013) which, if approved by Parliament, will introduce fees for claims made to an employment tribunal and appeals to the Employment Appeal Tribunal. The intention is to introduce fees at the end of July this year.
The Government is seeking to transfer some of the cost of running the tribunal system from the taxpayer to those who use the system. In addition, they hope that introducing fees will encourage parties to settle a dispute at the earliest opportunity.
Last summer, following lengthy consultation, the Government announced the outline fee structure (see our briefing for further details) and the draft Order now provides further details. A Ministry of Justice Q&A, published at the same time as the Order, addresses some of the key aspects of the new regime. Separately, the Ministry of Justice is consulting on changes to the remission system (which provides full or partial waiver of fees for those who cannot afford to pay).
The fee structure
In summary, the basis of the fee structure is as follows:
- The person who presents the claim or seeks the order initially pays the fee (typically, the claimant)
- Fee levels are based upon the average cost of a claim which can depend upon the nature of the case, the stage in the proceedings and for multiple claims, the number of claimants
- Fees are to be paid in advance, at issue and before hearing, and for several specified applications in employment tribunal
- Sanction for non-payment of issue fees and hearing fees are that the claim will not be allowed to commence or continue in the tribunal
- A provision allowing the tribunal to order that the unsuccessful party reimburse the fees paid by the successful party will be included in rules amendments.
There are two fee levels in the employment tribunal. In broad terms, discrimination, detriment and unfair dismissal claims are allocated to the higher type “B” fees, with wage deductions, refusals to allow time off and other “simpler” claims attracting the lower type “A” fee. For single claimants, a type B claim will have an issue fee of £250 and a hearing fee of £950, with type A attracting a £160 issue and £230 hearing fee.
The Q&A states that time limits will not be extended to provide time for claimants to fund tribunal fees.
Transitional provisions Only claims lodged at the employment tribunals or appeals made to the Employment Appeal Tribunal on or after the implementation date will attract fees. Any case in the system before fees are implemented will not attract any fee payments.