The Government has issued its response to the consultation on charging fees in the Employment Tribunal. From the summer of 2013, it proposes to implement a two-stage fee structure.
The first stage will be an ‘issue fee’, to be paid by claimants on submission of their claim. The second stage will be a ‘hearing fee’, to be paid by claimants four to six weeks prior to a hearing. Fees will depend on the type of claim. Straightforward and lower value claims (such as redundancy payments or unpaid wages) will be designated ‘Level 1’. At present the issue fee for Level 1 claims has been set at £160 and the hearing fee at £230. More complex claims such as unfair dismissal or discrimination will be ‘Level 2’, for which the issue fee is £250 and the hearing fee is £950. Where there are multiple claimants, the fee amount will depend on the number of claimants.
Fees will also be introduced in the Employment Appeal Tribunal. The fee for issuing an appeal will be £400 and the hearing fee will be £1,200. Other fees will be payable for tribunal applications, such as an application to set aside a default judgment. Employers will have to pay a fee of £160 when they submit a counter-claim in a breach of contract case, and £600 for an application for judicial mediation.
The fee remission scheme currently operating in the civil courts will be extended to tribunals for claimants who cannot afford the fees. Although judges will have the power to order an unsuccessful party to reimburse fees paid by the successful party, this will be at the judge’s discretion. It is clear that tribunal fees will become another area for negotiation in any settlement, and an additional tactical issue for both parties.