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Are Employment Tribunal fees on their way back?

Posted
March 4, 2024
Employment Law

Could we see the reintroduction of Employment Tribunal fees? The government has now begun its consultation. 

Haven't we been here before? 

Until 2017, Employment Tribunal claimants were normally required to pay a fee to issue an ET claim and another fee to proceed to a final hearing. In some cases, these fees could add up to more than £1,000. Predictably, trade unions were heavily opposed to the fees. Ultimately, Unison was successful in ‘quashing’ (cancelling) the entire scheme, after the Supreme Court concluded that the fees regime was unlawful. In simple terms, the court found that the regime unfairly denied people access to justice, as well as tending to disadvantage more women than men.

Since the collapse of the previous fees regime, claimants have been able to issue ET claims without paying any fees at all. However, the potential re-introduction of a ‘new and improved’ fees regime has never entirely gone away.

So what are we looking at now?

Under the new proposals, were they to come into force, claimants would normally be required to pay a flat fee of £55 to start an ET claim. This would be the only fee payable, unless either side needs to appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

The proposed new fee is much lower than the fees previously payable and there would also be a system in place to ‘excuse’ people from having to pay the fee at all, if they can show they cannot afford it. With this in mind, there is the prospect that the new regime would be much more difficult for the unions to challenge. That said, current estimates suggest the new regime would only raise something in the region of £1.5 million per year towards the circa £80m cost of running the ET system. If this is the case, is the new fees regime really worth introducing at all?

Want to have your say?

There is still the potential for people to have strong feelings on both sides of this particular debate.  If you would like to read more about the consultation process and possibly have your say, then click on the link here

Consultation closes on 25 March 2024.

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