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Return of the Fees?

BY Miranda Hughes
Employment Law & HR

It has been reported this month that the Ministry of Justice is considering a revised feeing structure to assist in funding the courts and tribunals system.

By way of a recap, Tribunal fees were introduced in July 2013. The feeing structure was split into two parts which started at around £160, and increased to between £230 and £950 for further hearings. In certain circumstances claimants had to pay up to £1,200 to bring a claim before the tribunal.

These were then quashed in the high-profile judgement of the Supreme Court in R (on the application of UNISON) v Lord Chancellor. 

From this point, no fees have been charged and there has been a wide-ranging scheme in place to allow Claimants to apply for a refund of fees that they had paid.  To date, the cumulative total for refunds lies in the region of £15.8m

In parliamentary debate, the government noted that the Unison judgment did not completely outlaw the concept of fees pointing out that a fee scale could be put in place that allowed people access to justice whist also allowing those without means to be excused from any revised fee structure.

There was no further detail or proposal in respect of what forms any amended fee structure would take, so it is doubtful that it will be implemented in the short-term future.

Given that parties had to wait almost seven months last year before a tribunal claim could be heard, due to the rise in the number of claims (almost 23%), it is clear that the prospect of tribunal fees will rear its head again in the not too distant future. 

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