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Time to Pay

Towards the end of last month the Government finally put legislation before Parliament explaining what it had in mind for Employment Tribunal (ET) fees.

The stated aim behind the shift away from the long held principal that access to ET processes should be free is the Government’s wish to transfer some of the approximate £84m cost of running the ET system away from taxpayers and move more of that cost onto the users of that system. With that in mind, the Government has decided that those users who can afford to pay fees should do so if they want to take their workplace dispute to an ET.

The introduction of fees into the ET is also part of a wider Government review of Britain’s employment laws which is designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the ET and to encourage employers and employees to work together to resolve workplace disputes at the earliest opportunity rather than relying on the ET system.  Cynics have commented that an additional, important, reason for the introduction of fees is simply to reduce the number of claims coming before an ET.

In future fees will need to be paid to issue or start a claim or appeal, before a hearing, to access Judicial Mediation and to Appeal. There are also going to be application specific fees for the following applications:

1. for a review (reconsideration) of a judgement or a final decision
2. to dismiss a claim following withdrawal
3. for a counter-claim

The general principles are that the person who brings the proceedings pays the fees and that those fees must be paid in advance. The fee for Judicial Mediation will, however, be paid by the Respondent.

In future, Claimants who enter the ET system by submitting an online ET1 will pay online via a debit/credit card.  If a hard copy ET1 is submitted, payment will need to be sent with the claim form. Only once the fee has been paid, will the ET1 be routed to the appropriate office for onward vetting, service and processing.

Those who can’t afford to pay will be able to apply for remission through the remissions scheme which currently applies to proceedings in the civil courts in England & Wales. As a general rule though, everyone will be deemed to be able to pay unless they demonstrate (by way of an application through the remissions scheme) that they are unable to do so. Importantly, if the required fees aren’t paid or remission hasn’t been granted then the claim will not be allowed to commence or continue in the Tribunal. Likewise, the time within which a claim must be commenced (eg. 3 months from the date of dismissal) will not be extended while a potential Claimant is resolving a question of fees or remission.

In a dramatic shift away from current practice, the Tribunal will have the ability to order the unsuccessful party to reimburse the fees paid by the successful party.

A summary of the fee levels appears on our website.

By way of a quick summary though, the fees have been split into two levels, based on the type of claim.  Claims for discrimination, detriment and dismissal will attract higher fees than more simple claims such as redundancy pay, unlawful deduction of wages or holiday pay claims.

If a claimant lodges ET1 listing a number of different types of complaint then the fee payable will be the one which relates to the highest level claim. It is not currently anticipated that the fees will be added together. So, for example, a claim for unpaid wages (level 1) and a complaint of unfair dismissal (level 2) would be charged one fee at the level 2 rate and not a combination of the two.

It is currently anticipated that fees will be introduced from the end of July 2013 onwards but an exact date has not yet been confirmed.

Only claims made to the ET or the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) on or after the implementation date will attract the fees. Any claim/case/appeal in the system before then will not attract any fee payments. Employers should therefore expect a mini rush in the last few weeks from employees who might otherwise have waited!

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Published: Wednesday 15th May 2013
Categorised: Corporate Law, Employment

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