Employment Tribunal fees announced

The Government has confirmed the level of fees for bringing an employment tribunal claim, to be introduced from next year.  Professional support lawyer Elizabeth Stevens reports.

Following the consultation that was issued in December last year (see our previous briefing), the Government has issued its response confirming plans to introduce fees for bringing a claim in the employment tribunals.

Fees will be charged in two stages: the first will be payable when a claim is issued; the second will be payable prior to the hearing.  The level of the fee will be determined by the type of claim: 

Level one claims are generally straightforward claims involving a defined sum of money, such as unauthorised deductions from wages and redundancy payments.  Such claims will require an initial fee of £160 when the claim is issued, followed by a further £230 is the case proceeds to a hearing, making a total fee of £390.

Level two claims are those involving more complex issues, including unfair dismissal, discrimination and equal pay.  Such claims will require an initial fee of £250 followed by a hearing fee of £950, making a total of £1200.

Fees in claims involving multiple claimants will be increased by a factor depending on the number of claimants.  A fee of £600 will be introduced for judicial mediation (which is currently free of charge).  Fees will also be introduced for bringing an appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

Those on low incomes will be subject to the remission system that currently applies in the civil courts, meaning that they may not be required to pay the full fees.  In addition, the tribunal will have the discretionary power to order the losing party to pay the fee incurred by the successful party.  This will mean that if an employer loses a claim brought against it in the employment tribunal, it may be ordered to reimburse the fees paid by the claimant.

One of the Government’s stated aims for introducing fees is to encourage parties to think carefully about whether to lodge a formal claim, or whether it can be settled informally via mediation or conciliation.  The Government wants to ensure that tribunals are used as ‘the option of last resort to resolve employment disputes’.  The introduction of fees will also go some way to meeting the £84 million cost of running the employment tribunal system.

It is proposed that the new fee structure will be introduced from summer 2013.

A copy of the consultation response is available here

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