Introduction of Employment Tribunal fees

There is a great deal of worry amongst the Unions and employment law solicitors with the approaching tribunal fees which arrive on the 29th July 2013. Their main worry which is fairly understandable is that the fees are going to deny justice to employees who have been unfairly dismissed. They could be viewed as prohibitive and put off the Claimants from trying to recover compensation.

The legislation has divided claims into 2 categories.

    1. The first category is for the “lesser” claims such as those for unpaid wages and theoretically should be the less complicated cases (although that is not always the case). The fees for them begin with an issuing fee of £160 and if it goes all the way to a full merit hearing it will require an extra £230.
    2. The second category is for those that are deemed more complicated such as unfair dismissal, discrimination or equal pay cases. The issuing fee will be £250 whilst the Hearing fee will come in at £950 which means that the potentially wronged employee can already be facing costs of £1200.

Unison is so worried about these legal costs that employees could be facing that they are submitting a judicial review with regard to the costs and being at odds with EU law.

It is not all doom and gloom though, if the employee is successful the tribunal will be able to order the unsuccessful party to reimburse the fees paid by the successful party. Although it should be noted that it will be at the judge’s discretion, hopefully this will be more often than not although only time will tell in that regard.

The legislation has also extended the civil courts remission scheme with regard to employment tribunal cases so if you fulfil certain criteria you may be exempt from fees either completely or at a lower rate. The three main points are as follows:

    1. If you receive means tested benefits you are not liable for fees
    2. If your gross annual income is below a certain value based on the number of children you have you are exempt from fees
    3. The fees are scalable if the disposable household monthly income is £340 or less per month. (Although potential claimants should be aware that this is a joint amount for the household rather than individually)

Therefore if you are considering taking forward action it may be advisable to consider doing it sooner rather than later if you wish to avoid the costs of issuing the cases.