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Tribunal Fees - a review but no imminent changes


Fees to lodge a claim, together with provisions for remission, were introduced from July 2013 by The Employment Tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal Fees Order 2013. The controversy around them stems from the fact that the statistical evidence is clear that they have reduced claims and costs for the Tribunal system but, as such, arguably limit access to justice.

The Coalition Government indicated a number of times from early 2014 that they intended to review the system. In February 2015, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan stated that: “We have made a commitment to conduct a review of the introduction of the fees, and we will do so, but we think that this is a matter for the next Administration and the next Parliament.”

Hence on the 11th June 2015, the Government launched the Employment Fees Post Implementation Review and published its Terms of Reference here .

The Review will consider how effective the introduction of fees has been at meeting the original objectives, whilst maintaining access to justice. It will also consider the effectiveness of the new fee remissions scheme.

The original objectives included transferring some of the costs from the taxpayer to those who use the service, where they can afford to do so and to encourage the use of alternative dispute resolution services, such as ACAS conciliation. It appears that the Review will be largely based on data and will include an assessment of case volumes, case progression and case outcomes and to what extent there has been discouragement of weak or unmeritorious claims. 

The Review is expected to be completed later in the year and there will follow a consultation on any proposals for reforms to the fees and remissions scheme

Meanwhile the legal challenge to the fee system continues.  In April, Unison were granted permission by the Court of Appeal to proceed with appeals against the decisions of the High Court refusing its two Judicial Review applications challenging the lawfulness of employment tribunal fees. Interestingly these two appeals are due to be heard this month.

Further information on Tribunal fees is available for subscribers in our law card on Fees and Starting Claims and Costs, Fees, Preparation Time Orders and Wasted Costs Orders.