Possible re-introduction of Employment Tribunal fees
In July 2017 The Supreme Court found that employment tribunal fees prevented access to justice and therefore these were abolished. Sixteen months later and The Ministry of Justice has confirmed it may reintroduce fees for employment tribunal claims, insisting it can find a balance that helps fund the court system while being ‘proportionate and progressive’.
Employment tribunal fees were initially introduced in July 2013 with the aim of transferring the costs of running the employment tribunal system to users of the service, encouraging early settlement of disputes and discouraging weak claims. This saw a decrease of around 70% in the number of employment claims because anyone wanting to submit a claim would have to pay up to £1,200. The Supreme Court ruled that these fees were unlawful and confirmed that the tribunal service will stop charging fees with immediate effect, and steps would be taken to refund those who paid fees since the introduction of the scheme.
The Ministry of Justice published tribunal statistics for April to June 2018 which showed that the number of single claims lodged increased by 165% compared with the same quarter last year. In addition to this, the refund payments in 2017/2018 totalled £7.1m, and since April 2018 a further £15.8m has been refunded, and it is costing the taxpayer around £2m just to administer this refund scheme. On this basis it is not surprising that there is talk of reintroducing tribunal fees however there is no doubt that this would be a controversial move having only scrapped the fees in July last year.
Although there are no immediate plans to reintroduce a fee scheme, Richard Heaton, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice, said a new fee system can be found that will ensure access to justice and the new scale will be ‘proportionate, progressive and within our powers’. It therefore seems unlikely that the current position of no fees will be maintained.
If as an employer, you receive a notification that one of your employees or former employees has submitted a claim to the Employment Tribunal you should contact our experienced Employment Law experts here at FTA Law on 0330 088 2275.
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