29 January 2024

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is currently consulting on the potential introduction of Employment Tribunal (ET) and Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) fees.

This is not the first time fees have been charged for access to ET and EAT claims, however, the proposals will differ significantly from those introduced in 2013. The 2013 fee scheme saw ET claims charged up to £390 for a simple claim and up to £1,200 for a more complex claim.

R (Unison) v The Lord Chancellor [2017] saw the Supreme Court deem the fees unlawful as they prevented access to justice to those unable to afford them. Additionally, they saw that the fees were indirectly discriminatory as women and those with protected characteristics were more likely to bring cases that attracted the higher fees, such as discrimination cases.

The new fee structure proposed is a £55 issue fee that would represent the full passage through the ET process. For the EAT process a £55 fee would be payable for each judgement, decision, direction or order from the ET being appealed.

Full remission of fees will be available for some individuals under the Help with Fees (HwF) scheme. The government sets out why it believes the fees proposed are proportionate and examples of where fee remission would be available.

The consultation notes that since the 2013 fee scheme was quashed cases have increased from around 18,000 in 2016/17 to around 33,000 in 2022/23. With tribunal wait times getting longer, is the government attempting to reduce the number of claims to a more manageable level? However, the MoJ state that the funds could be used to help fund the mostly taxpayer funded Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS). The fees introduction could also promote individuals to settle disputes early through ACAS, alleviating pressure on the ET system.

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