NEWS & RESOURCES

Introducing Fees in the Employment Tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal

A new consultation has been launched which proposes to reintroduce modest fees within the Employment Tribunals (ET) and Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) systems, aiming to enhance the ongoing refinement of the Court and Tribunal Service while lessening the burden on taxpayers to finance these services.

Charges were previously in place from July 2013 to July 2017. The 2013 fee regime categorised ET claims into ‘Type A’ or ‘Type B’ claims with different fees payable dependent on whether the claim was a Type A or Type B claim. Type A claims (which covered simple disputes such as unpaid holiday pay) attracted an issue fee of £160 and a hearing fee of £230, totalling £390 in fees. Type B claims (which covered more complex disputes such as discrimination) attracted an issue fee of £250 and a hearing fee of £950, totalling £1200 in fees. The EAT attracted a £400 issue fee and a £1200 hearing fee, totalling £1600 in fees.

The introduction of fees in 2013 led to a substantial fall in the number of claims brought to the ET. Ultimately, the Supreme Court found the fees were unlawful as they were unaffordable and essentially prevented access to justice. It was also found that the fee system was indirectly discriminatory against women and individuals with protected characteristics as they were more likely to bring Type B claims and therefore liable to pay the higher fee.

Currently, there is no fee to bring a claim in an ET or EAT, which means that the cost of administering the tribunal service is borne entirely by the taxpayer. The direct running cost of the ET and EAT was around £80 million in 2022/23, with c. 33,000 cases comprised of c.85,000 claims being brought to an ET in the same year. Tax payers also fund the early conciliation service provided by ACAS.

The proposal to introduce fees in the ET and EAT is intended to relieve some of the cost to the general taxpayer by requiring tribunal users to pay for the tribunal system, where they can afford to do so. It has also been suggested that modest fees may incentivise parties to settle their disputes early through ACAS without the need for claims to be brought to an ET.

The proposed fee for initiating a claim in the employment tribunal is £55, which applies as a one-time payment without any additional charges upon the approach of the hearing. There will no longer be a distinction between Type ‘A’ and Type ‘B’ cases as previously established. This fee remains consistent at £55 regardless of whether it involves a single claimant or a multi-party action. Similarly, a £55 fee would apply for commencing an appeal in the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

A system for fee remission will be in place for individuals who genuinely cannot afford the fees, as defined by the government. Additionally, certain very specific claims will be exempted from fees, primarily those against the national redundancy fund and claims related to failure to collectively consult in large-scale redundancies.

This consultation will close on 25 March 2024.

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