Business Law: Annalie King on Government plans for Employment Tribunal fees

THE government has announced that there will be a number of changes in employment law, one of which is fee charging in the employment tribunals.

So, in brief, what is being planned?

Option 1 is based on an issue fee of �150-�250 followed by a hearing fee of �250-�1,250. Both of these will be payable by the claimant. The level of the fees will depend on the nature of the claim, the number of individuals involved and the complexity of the issues. There will also be a further six fees for specific applications during proceedings. If this option is chosen, it will come into force next year.

Option 2 is based on one fee of �250 - �1,750, again payable by the claimant and based on the number of individuals involved and the nature and complexity of the issues. There will also be a further six fees payable as with Option 1. If this option is chosen it will come into force in 2014 as the Government will need to address primary legislation first.

With regard to the Employment Appeal Tribunal there is only one proposed structure and that is the same as Option 1 except that the issue fee would be �400 and the hearing fee of �1,250.

There will be a fees remission for those claimants who need financial assistance and they will receive either full or partial remission based on the evidence they provide to support their application. Claimants will be able to apply for this when they file their claims. They will also be given the right to appeal the decision twice.

The Government’s aim is to reduce the number of weak claims that have little prospect of success. Whilst I welcome reform it remains to be seen whether these proposals are the best solution. The tribunal system is already challenged by the volume of claims it handles and now potentially faces the extra administrative burden of having to deal with applications for remission of fees. This will also affect time limits for bringing claims.

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There is currently no provision for the repayment of fees if for example there is an error made as to the amount payable or the claim is settled before going to hearing. Further, the payment of �1,750 proposed in Option 2 is greater than the application and hearing fee of appealing to the Supreme Court.

There is a danger that this proposal may create more issues than it resolves but we await further developments with interest.

: : Annalie King is an employment lawyer with Ashton KCJ Solicitors

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