Employment Tribunal fees: how will they affect you?

HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has announced that fees in the Employment Tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) will be implemented on 29th July 2013. This means that, for the first time from that date, bringing employment claims and appeals will require payment of a fee or an application for fee remission against that fee under the HMCTS remissions scheme.

Until now it’s been free to issue a claim (not even costing the price of a stamp if the claim is issued online). Fees won’t be payable on claims submitted, or notices of appeal received, before 29th July 2013.

What are the charges?

For level 1 claims (which include claims for unpaid wages and redundancy payments), the issue fee will be £160 plus a hearing fee of £230. For level 2 claims (other claims), the issue fee will be £250 and the hearing fee will be £950. Different fee levels will apply to claims involving multiple claimants, and if the fees are unpaid, the claim will not be allowed to go ahead.

If an appeal is lodged, the appellant will pay an issue fee of £400 and the hearing fee will be £1,200. There will be only one level of fee regardless of the claim or amount of claimants.

What impact will they have?

Naturally, the introduction of fees, particularly where someone has recently become unemployed, is likely to put some people off bringing a claim. But people on lower incomes who would otherwise have difficulty paying a fee to use court or tribunal services may be able to benefit from the fee remissions system.

Because the requirement to pay a hearing fee applies 4-6 weeks before the hearing, claimants might be more inclined to settle early and the number of ‘nuisance claims’ potentially could be reduced. The Employment Tribunal may also order the unsuccessful party to reimburse fees paid by the successful party.

How will they affect employers and employees?

If you’re an employer, we’d advise you to manage situations in order to minimise the risk of a claim. It remains to be seen if there will be a reduction in ‘nuisance claims’, but the introduction of fees for the first time will be seen as a welcome development by many employers.

If you’re an employee, a creditable claim would still be worth bringing as fees can be taken into account when considering compensation for a winning claimant. So you shouldn’t be out of pocket.

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