The price of justice - the new fee regime in the Employment Tribunal
The Employment Tribunal has announced the new fee regime which should come into force in the Summer of 2013.
The new fee structure
Justice will now come at a price for those wishing to bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal. The Government has stated that their aim is not to deter claimants and the fees are being introduced to assist with the cost of the Employment Tribunal system.
From Summer 2013, it is planned that claimants will need to pay a fee of £160 or £250 when they issue their claim. In addition, they will pay a further fee 4 to 6 weeks before the hearing of £230 or £950. The sum will depend on the type of claim (and not, as previously mooted, on the value of the claim). The higher sum will always apply in unfair dismissal, discrimination and equal pay claims. If there are multiple claimants then a higher and different fee structure will apply.
There are additional fees for different applications which will mainly affect the employer/respondent to a claim. An application for a default judgement will cost £100 for the party making the application. The commonly-used application to dismiss a claim after settlement will cost £60. A counter-claim will cost £160 and must be paid by the employer. An application for mediation by an Employment Tribunal judge will cost an unappealing £600 and must be paid by the employer while an application to review the original Employment Tribunal's decision will cost £100 or £350 depending on the type of claim.
Money will not be refunded even if the claim does not continue to a full hearing (unless the Claimant can show that he could not afford to pay all or part of the fees at the start). The respondent must however pay back the fees incurred by the claimant if the claimant wins the claim.
The Government has stated that it 'hopes' to introduce the fees next Summer which does not give us any certainty. Whilst employee groups are bitterly opposed to the introduction of the fees, it seems unlikely that the fees will stop a determined claimant. It may however encourage a vexatious claimant to think twice before issuing his claim.
The cost of the fees will no doubt form part of any settlement negotiations in light of the fact the fees will not be refunded.
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