Today the Government published a response to its consultation on Charging Fees in Employment Tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal. From next summer, fees will be introduced into employment tribunals and the Employment Appeals Tribunal to encourage businesses and workers to mediate or settle a dispute rather than go to a full hearing.
By introducing fees, people using employment tribunals will start to contribute a significant proportion of the £84m cost of running the system. The aim is to reduce the taxpayer subsidy of these tribunals by transferring some of the cost to those who use the service, while protecting access to justice for all.
Two main fees will be introduced, the first payable at the issue of the claim and the second, the hearing fee, payable around four weeks prior to the hearing taking place. From summer 2013, mediation by a judge will cost £600 rather than the £750 proposed in the consultation document. This offers a considerable saving on the £1,200 it would cost to take a “level 2” claim all the way to full hearing. The lower fee to take the administratively simpler “level 1” claims to a full hearing will be £390 – which drops to just £160 if settled before the hearing fee is payable.
Fees to use the employment tribunal will be payable in advance, and most types of fee will only apply to the person bringing the claim. However the tribunal will have the power to order the unsuccessful party to reimburse the fee to the successful party. In practice, cases are often settled rather than there being a clear ‘winner’ or ‘loser’ and the issue of reimbursement would form part of the settlement.
Many people on low incomes may not be required to pay the full fees – under the same remission system which already exists for court users who pay fees to use the civil courts’ services. Following this extension of this exemption system, the Government will review its use across both courts and tribunals and publish a consultation later this year as part of a wider review required by the introduction of Universal Credit in late 2013. We would welcome your further input into this consultation. The aim will be to produce a single remissions system for courts and tribunals which is simpler to use, more cost effective and better targeted to ensure that those who can afford to pay fees do so, while continuing to provide access to the courts and tribunal system to those who cannot.
The Government received 140 responses to the consultation.