The Government’s plans to introduce fees for tribunal claims have begun to swing into action. Draft legislation has been placed before Parliament and it appears we are looking at an implementation date at the end of July 2013.
Which claims will attract fees?
The way the scheme will work is that there will be two categories of claim which attract different fees. Lower value claims (such as wages claims and claims for refusal to allow time off) will fall into “Type A” claims and attract level 1 fees. “Type B” claims will cover the bigger claims such as unfair dismissal, HR and detriment and will attract level 2 fees. There will also be additional fees for making specific applications to the tribunal. Claims that straddle both types (eg. a claim for unfair dismissal and unpaid wages) will attract only one fee but will be at the higher level.
Fee Type Level 1 Claims Level 2 Claims
Issue Fee* £160 £250
Hearing Fee* £230 £950
*Where there are multiple claimants higher fees apply but these will be split among the claimants.
Review Application Mediation Counter- Application
Default to dismiss by the claim by for review
Judgement following judiciary respondent
Level 1 £100 £60 - £160 £100
Level 2 £100 £60 £600 - £350
In the Employment Appeal Tribunal the fees will be £400 to lodge an appeal and £1,200 for a full hearing.
Claimants will be able to apply to have all or part of the fees waived by the tribunal office under a scheme similar to the HMCTS Remissions Scheme which applies in the civil courts in England and Wales. That remission scheme only looks at what the Claimant’s income is and does not take into account the claimant’s savings. However, given that most Claimants will have been dismissed and may not be working, the tribunal fee remission scheme will have a disposable capital test as well as an income test. The income test will take into account both the Claimant’s income and their partner’s income and whether or not the claimant has dependents will also be relevant. Further details about the thresholds for income and capital are yet to be released. Claimants will be able to apply for fee waivers online or at two tribunal centres (one for England and Wales and one for Scotland).
Presenting a claim under the new system
Although it is not yet clear how long it will take to process a fee waiver, the Government is not proposing that the time limit for raising a claim be extended. According to the guidance available, claimants will present claims (online or at the two designated central offices) together with their fee or fee remission application. If the claimant is applying for a remission, the ET1 will only sent on to be processed once the remission is approved. It is not clear whether a claim will be accepted as “lodged” for time bar purposes when it is actually submitted or when remission is approved and the ET1 is sent for processing to the relevant office.
When will the fee system come into effect?
The Government is working towards an implementation date at the end of July 2013. The guidance is that only claims presented on or after the implementation date will attract fees. Any claim already in the system will not attract any fee payments. However, if an existing claim concludes and a party wish to appeal to the EAT after the implementation date, the EAT fees will be payable.
The fee proposals have been eagerly anticipated by businesses who hope that this will prevent spurious claims being raised by Claimants. However, the level of fees has raised many an eyebrow over fears that it will deter valid claims from being brought by Claimants who simply cannot afford to pursue justice at a time when their income has decreased dramatically.