The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has issued for consultation proposals for introducing fees for those wishing to lodge a claim with an Employment Tribunal (ET) or an appeal with the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT). Currently, the system is free to use and in the year 2010/2011, 218,100 claims and 2,048 appeals were made, at a total cost to the taxpayer of £84.2 million.
The consultation puts forward two sets of proposals that will ensure that those who use the system make a financial contribution, but which will also protect access to justice for those on low incomes or of limited means.
Proposal 1 – an issue fee of between £150 and £250, depending on the nature of the claim, with a further fee of between £250 and £1,250 if the claim goes to a hearing. There would be no limit to the maximum compensation award payable; or
Proposal 2 – a single fee of between £200 and £600 where the claimant seeks an award of less than £30,000. Those seeking a larger award would pay an additional fee of £1,750.
The first proposal, if implemented, would be introduced in 2013. The second proposal would require primary legislation in order to be implemented in full and so would not be introduced until 2014.
The proposed fee for lodging an appeal with the EAT is £400, with a hearing fee of £1,250.
As in civil courts, fee waivers will be available for people who cannot afford to pay.
Tribunals will have the power to order the unsuccessful party to reimburse the successful party’s fees, so that the cost is borne by the party that caused the system to be used.
It is hoped that the proposed fee structure will discourage unmerited and unnecessary claims and encourage the early settlement of disputes through conciliation or mediation.
The consultation, ‘Charging Fees in Employment Tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal’, can be found at on the MoJ website. The consultation closes on 6 March 2012.