08 November 2018 #Employment
The government has confirmed this week that it is considering reintroducing fees for employment tribunal claims.
Following the introduction of fees in 2013 (which ranged between £390 and £1,200), the total number of tribunal claims dropped from approximately 80,000 to roughly 20,000 per year. The scheme was abolished in July 2017, after the Supreme Court found that it prevented access to justice and was unlawful.
Giving evidence to the House of Commons Justice committee on 6 November 2018, Richard Heaton, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice, said that while there are no immediate plans to reintroduce a fee scheme he is confident that a fee system can be found that will ensure access to justice in a “proportionate and progressive” way.
Importantly, the Supreme Court’s judgment did not rule out the idea of tribunal fees altogether. The issue was that the old system was found to be an unjustified barrier to justice and was held to impose unjustified limitations on the ability to enforce EU rights (and therefore unlawful under EU Law). Notably, it did not mirror the civil court system which has a sliding scale fee system, depending on the amount claimed.
It is worth noting that the Ministry of Justice has so far only managed to refund approximately half of the £33 million paid in employment tribunal fees between 2013 and 2017.