The Ministry of Justice has published its response to its consultation on the fee charging structures in the employment tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).
It has proposed implementing a two-stage charging system, requiring claimants to present an “issue fee” when they submit their claim or appeal, followed by a “hearing fee” prior to a tribunal hearing.
In the tribunals, the amount of each fee will depend on the type of claim. More straightforward claims are allocated to the “Level 1” category (e.g. claims that require very little or no case management work and usually require approximately one hour to resolve at a hearing, such as claims for unlawful deductions from wages and redundancy payments). All other claims fall in the “Level 2″ category and involve more complex issues, such as claims for unfair dismissal, discrimination, equal pay and whistleblowing, and therefore require longer hearings. These will require the claimant to pay a higher fee.
The proposed fees for claims involving single claimants (and which will be payable by the claimant) are as follows:
Issue Fee – Level 1 claim – £160; Level 2 claim – £250
Hearing fee – level 1 claim – £230; Level 2 claim – £950
For claims involving multiple claimants, the fees will be greater and will depend on the number of claimants.
Parties wishing to make certain applications, such as for a review of a tribunal judgment or a submission of counter-claim in a breach of contract case, will have to pay a separate fee. It will also cost £400 to appeal to the EAT. However, the HMCTS civil courts fee remission scheme will be extended to the tribunals for claimants who cannot afford the fees (e.g. those on low incomes or in receipt of certain benefits.) A full public consultation on remissions will be launched in the autumn of 2012, with the aim of producing a single, simpler system.
Both employee groups and employers are disappointed with the proposals. Employee groups are generally opposed to the principle of paying tribunal fees, arguing that they may deter workers from making valid claims. Employer groups felt that the fees system should deter weak and vexatious claims, which the Government rejected.
The Government aims to implement the new fee structure in the summer of 2013.