16 December 2011 #Employment
The Government is currently consulting on its proposals to introduce a fee structure in the employment tribunals and EAT. Earlier this year the Government made known its intention to impose the payment of a fee for lodging a tribunal claim. Their aim being to encourage resolution of workplace disputes and transfer some of the costs to those that use the system. The Ministry of Justice has stated that introducing fees will bring employment tribunals into line with civil courts where claimants already pay a fee to use the service.
The entire cost of bringing a claim or an appeal in the tribunal or the EAT is currently met by the tax payer. The consultation now seeks views on two separate fee-charging schemes but the principle of charging fees in the tribunals and the EAT, is not up for discussion.
Under the first option, the level of fees charged would be dependent on the nature of the claim and the stage reached in the proceedings. If there are multiple claims, the number of people involved would impact on the fee charged. Two fees would be required: one at the time the claim is lodged (the `issue fee`); and the other, for claims proceeding to hearing, before the hearing (the `hearing fee`). For a single claim the issue fee would be between £150 and £250, and the hearing fee would be between £250 and £1,250. The claimant would be required to pay both fees. There would also be six further fees for certain specified applications once a claim has been accepted, including a request for written reasons and a counterclaim.
The second option would require that the claimant pay one fee at the issue stage, irrespective of whether the claim progressed to a hearing. This fee would range from between £200 and £1,750 for a single claim. As with option one, there would be six further fees for certain applications made after the claim has been accepted. The more the claimant seeks to recover, the higher their fee will be.
Only one fee structure is proposed for the EAT. This is similar to the first option for the tribunal but the issue fee would be £400 and the hearing fee £1,250.
In both cases, the HM Courts and Tribunals Service remission system would be available to those that cannot afford to pay the fees. Tribunals will also have the power to order the unsuccessful party to reimburse the successful party so that `the cost is ultimately borne by the party who caused the system to be used`.
The consultation will close in March 2012 and the Government intends to introduce the fees no earlier than 2013-14.