Fees were introduced in both the Employment Tribunals along with the Employment Appeals Tribunal in 2013 and this was not without controversy. Claimants who could previously have brought a claim for free suddenly had to factor in the new fees alongside any legal costs. For example, the current regime requires a Claimant bringing an unfair dismissal claim to pay £250 up-front and then a further £950 if the matter proceeds to a full hearing, amounting to a total sum of £1,200 (subject to the individual being entitled to a fee remission which is uncommon).
Since the introduction of fees, the number of new claims has decreased significantly year on year and Government statistics show a decrease of 52% in the number of claims brought by individual employees in 2014/15 compared to 2013/14.
The Government has announced a review of Employment Tribunal fees with the review scheduled to be completed later this year. The review is intended to determine how successful the fee scheme has been in meeting its original aims, these being (a) transferring some costs from the taxpayer to those who use the tribunal, (b) encouraging parties to seek alternative ways of resolving disputes and (c) maintaining access to justice. The review could result in recommendations being made for changes to the structure and levels of fees currently in place along with possible recommendations for increasing the efficiency of certain procedures in the Employment Tribunal in order to reduce costs.
Lisa Outram comments: “The review into fees is likely to give some hope to employees who have been dissuaded thus far from presenting a claim due to the costs. However, from an employer’s perspective, the fees have arguably helped to prevent unmeritorious claims and reduced time and effort spent to date in defending claims. If the Government is satisfied that the aims of the fee scheme have been met, it is likely that fees could be here to stay. However, it is important to bear in mind that using a tribunal is not the only way to resolve a dispute and alternative dispute resolution can, in certain circumstances, produce a quicker and cheaper result.’
If you would like to discuss any issue or query arising from this update please contact Lisa Outram or your usual contact in the Employment team. Alternatively email us at [email protected] or on 0121 233 4333
This newsletter does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be taken before acting on any of the topics covered.