The Government has announced plans to introduce Employment Tribunal Fees. The fees will be introduced in summer 2013.
Fees will be charged in two stages; the first will be payable when a claim is issued; the second will be payable prior to the hearing. The level of fee will be determined by the type of claim.
Under the plans, claims for unpaid wages, holiday pay and redundancy would be levelled ‘level one’ and pay an issue fee of £160 and a hearing fee of £230. ‘Level two’ claims, including unfair dismissal and discrimination would pay an issue fee of £250, followed by a hearing fee of £950, totalling £1200.
There are several other fees, e.g., judicial mediation will cost up to £600 and, even where parties agree a settlement, the Tribunal will look for a £60 fee when submitting an application to dismiss the claim.
If the claim proceeds to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, the appellant will incur much larger fees-£400 to lodge the appeal in the first instance, coupled with a later fee of £1,200 for the case to be heard before the Employment Appeal Tribunal.
Those on low incomes will be subject to the remission system that currently applies in the civil courts, meaning that they may not be required to pay the full fees.
Tribunals will also have the power to order the unsuccessful party to reimburse the successful party’s fees, so that the cost is borne by the party who caused the system to be used.
The plans have met criticism by the Trade Unions, who are concerned that workers on low incomes will lose their access to justice.
However, the Ministry of Justice hopes that the plans will discourage unmerited and unnecessary claims and encourage the early settlement of disputes through conciliation and mediation. In addition, it is also hoped that the plans will help reduce some of the costs of the Employment Tribunal system, which currently stands at around £84 million per year.
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