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UK – Employment tribunal fees introduced

03 July 2013

From 29 July 2013 employment tribunal fees will be introduced across the UK. Claimants will be required to pay a fee when submitting their claim, and also pay a hearing fee, four and six weeks before the hearing date. The aim of introducing the fees is to reduce the number of spurious claims and relieve the financial burden of the employment tribunal process.

According to a quarterly report from Her Majesty’s Court and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), between January and March 2013 the number of tribunal claims was 57,737. This equates to a +36% increase compared with the same period last year. Of the 57,737 claims, only 27,778 were granted a final hearing, a decrease of -3% compared with 2013.

There will be two levels of claims, each with its own fees. For level one claims; generally relating to redundancy payment, holiday pay, and payments in lieu of notice, the issue fee will be £160. If the case progresses to a hearing, the fee will be £230. For level two claims; relating to unfair dismissal, whistleblowing, and discrimination, the issue fee is £250 and the hearing fee is £950.

To appeal a decision the issue fee will be £400, and the hearing fee £1,200. Under the new scheme, Judges will have the discretionary power to order the unsuccessful party to reimburse any fees paid by the successful party.

Claimants can qualify for fee remission under the remissions scheme, provided they match the requirements of a two-stage means test. The Government is currently in the process of finalising changes to the current remissions scheme and it is expected to be implemented in October 2013.

British trade union, UNISON, released a statement advising the Ministry of Justice that they would lodge proceedings if the introduction of fees went ahead. “Introducing fees will prevent people exercising their EU rights. UNISON envisages that reasonable people will not litigate to vindicate their EU rights; given that the new fee regime will impose fees, which will often be greater than the expected compensation, even if the claims are successful. UNISON considers that the fees are set at a prohibitive level, even [for] those entitled to [a] partial remission of their fees. In its view, this breaches EU law, which requires national courts not to make it excessively difficult for individuals to exercise their EU rights.”

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