The introduction of Employment Tribunal fees has been on the horizon for several months. On 24 April 2013, the wheels were set in motion when new legislation to implement the fees system was laid before Parliament for approval. HM Courts & Tribunals Servi
The fees are designed to transfer some of the cost of running the Tribunal system from taxpayers to those who use it.
The Tribunal will have the power on conclusion of a case to order an unsuccessful party to reimburse any fees paid by the successful party, bringing Tribunal powers in closer alignment with the civil courts.
The main fees payable by Claimants will be a fee of up to £250 for filing any claim, and a fee of up to £950 before any Hearing of any claim takes place. There will be further fees for particular events during the litigation process. For example, if a Claimant withdraws their claim, the Respondent will need to pay £60 to make an application to have the claim formally removed from the Tribunal system.
Whilst the fee system will undoubtedly help to weed out weak and vexatious claims, it is likely that many Claimants who have lost their jobs will be unable to pay the fees required to progress their claim or to reimburse a successful Respondent. In recognition of this, the new rules will provide for an exemption system.
The exemption system will work on the basis that everyone is deemed able to pay the necessary fees, unless they can demonstrate in an exemption application that they are unable to do so. If an application for exemption succeeds, all, or part, of any fees will be waived.
The fees that are required will be payable through the HM Courts & Tribunals Service website. It’s anticipated that anyone without internet access will be able to send a cheque to the relevant Tribunal centre.
However, it is currently unclear when the fees will need to be paid. There are often several months between the date upon which a claim is presented to the Tribunal and the date of any Hearing. Payment of the ‘issue fee’ and the ‘Hearing fee’ could therefore be months apart. Definitive guidance is likely to be required on this point before the new regime comes into effect.
It is also currently unclear what will happen if any party fails to pay the fees required. The latest guidance suggests that the claim may not be allowed to commence or continue. However, there is likely to be some sort of warning procedure to give the parties a second chance to make any payment before the claim is struck out.
The new rules on fees are scheduled for implementation at the end of July 2013. We’re expecting further guidance from HM Courts & Tribunals Services before then to ensure that the new fee system runs smoothly. In the meantime, we’d be interested to hear your views so that we can provide feedback at the next local Tribunal User Group meeting. Please email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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