Employment tribunal fees briefing paper

22 September 2015

The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper which summarises the background to and operation of the tribunal fees system.

Employment tribunal fees were introduced during July 2013 by The Employment Tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal Fees Order 2013 (SI 2013/1893). Prior to that, since the creation of the employment tribunal system, claimants were not required to pay fees to bring their claims. Claimants must now pay separate fees to issue their claim and have it heard. Fee levels differ according to the nature of the claim. It is possible for those with limited means to obtain a reduction or waiver of fees provided certain criteria are met.

The introduction of fees coincided with a steep decline in the number of cases received. In the year to June 2013, employment tribunals received on average just under 13,500 single cases (brought by one person) per quarter. Following the introduction of fees, the number of single cases averaged around 4,500 per quarter between October 2013 and June 2015, a decrease of 67%. The average number of multiple cases (brought by two or more people) received per quarter fell from just under 1,500 to fewer than 500, a 69% decrease.

Since their introduction, tribunal fees have been the subject of repeated judicial review proceedings both in England and Wales, and in Scotland. To date these challenges have been unsuccessful.

This briefing paper summarises the background to and operation of the fees system, provides a statistical analysis of its impact and discusses the legal challenges to the Fees Order.