Global Employment Law
Consultation on Fees in Employment Tribunals
By Hazel Oliver
The UK's Ministry of Justice has issued a public consultation document on the Government's proposals for introducing fees in the Employment Tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT). This is not a consultation on whether or not to introduce fees, as that has already been decided. Rather, the consultation is about the proposed structure and arrangements for charging fees. There are two alternative proposals for fee structures, Option 1 and Option 2, which are outlined below.
The key features of the first option are as follows:
- Fees would initially be set to recover a proportion of the cost of providing the service.
- The fee payable would vary depending on the nature of the claim made, the stage reached in the proceedings, and (for multiple claims) the number of people in the claim.
- Fees would be payable in respect of two stages: (1) the issue of the claim; (2) before the hearing. However, both the issue fee and hearing fee would be payable by the claimant when the claim is made.
- The fee level payable would depend upon the claim type, allocated into three levels: Level 1 (sums due on termination); Level 2 (unfair dismissal); and Level 3 (discrimination/equal pay/whistleblowing).
The fees for issuing a claim would be: Level 1 £150; Level 2 £200; and Level 3 £250. The fees for proceeding to a hearing would be: Level 1 £250; Level 2 £1,000; and Level 3 £1,250.
The key features of the second option are as follows:
- Fees would only be charged at the issue of claim stage.
- The level of fees would vary depending on the nature of the claim made and the value of the claim, and (for multiples) the number of people in the claim.
- If the claimant seeks an award over £30,000, a higher fee would be payable (Level 4), irrespective of the nature of the claim.
- Where a claimant seeks an award less of than £30,000, the Tribunal would be prohibited from making an award above that threshold if the claim was successful.
- The fee for Level 4 claims would be initially set to recover the full cost of providing the service, with other fees set below full cost recovery.
The fees would be: Level 1 £200; Level 2 £500; Level 3 £600; and Level 4 (£30,000 or over) £1,750.
Under both Option 1 and Option 2, a remission system would apply for those who need to access an Employment Tribunal but cannot afford to pay the fee. Full remission could be sought based on receipt of specific benefits or gross threshold income, or partial remission based on monthly disposable income.
Also under both options, the Tribunal would have the power to order that the unsuccessful party reimburse the fees paid by the successful party.
The consultation document also proposes fees for making various types of application to a Tribunal, payable by the party making the application. For example, an application to review a Tribunal decision would cost £100 (Level 1) or £350 (other levels).
Fees in the EAT
The document proposes a fee of £400 for issuing an appeal to the EAT and a further fee of £1,200 for proceeding to hearing.
The consultation will be open until 6 March 2012. The timing of the introduction of fees will depend on which option is chosen. For Option 1, implementation is proposed in the 2013/14 financial year. For Option 2, because of the requirement for legislation preventing a Tribunal awarding a sum in excess of £30,000 where the appropriate fee has not been paid, full implementation is proposed by the 2014/15 financial year.
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