Employment Tribunal fees abolished!August 07, 2017
Excellent news for individuals thinking of bringing a claim – there is now no fee payable to the Employment Tribunal. This follows the recent ruling of the recent Supreme Court that such fees are unlawful.
For claimants, this legal ruling is a great victory. It helps remove a major barrier to justice and makes it more affordable than ever to bring an employment claim.
Since the fees were introduced in 2013, the number of cases plummeted by 66-70%. Many people have been put off from bringing claims.
Individuals had to pay one fee to issue a claim and another fee to go to a final hearing. The overall cost for a claimant was either £390 (for smaller claims, e.g. unpaid wages) or £1,200 (for complex claims e.g. unfair dismissal, discrimination and equal pay).
The Supreme Court unanimously found that these fees unjustifiably interfered with an individual’s right of access to justice. It said that the system unlawfully discriminated against women and other protected groups. And it recognised that fees can act as a deterrent for people seeking modest amounts of compensation. The fee remission system was flawed, and did not assist the people who needed it the most. Feedback from ACAS also indicated that fees were a major reason why people did not issue claims.
It’s worth remembering that employees’ rights and access to justice had already been eroded in 2012, when the length of service requirement for unfair dismissal claims was increased from 1 to 2 years.
What does the Supreme Court’s decision mean?
The ruling quashed the Tribunal’s Fees Order, which means the Employment Tribunal is no longer allowed to charge any fees. You can now issue a claim and pursue it all the way to a final hearing, without having to pay any Tribunal fees.
The decision doesn't mean that any kind of future fees system would also be unlawful.
Repayment of fees
The Government has undertaken to repay all fees paid by individuals. We await the details of how the refunds are going to be processed and paid, which is likely to be a huge administrative task for the Tribunals.
No one knows whether repayment of fees will apply to individuals who had their fees refunded by their employer under a settlement agreement rather than a Tribunal order.
How we can help
You still need to ensure you take advice and action promptly: the time limits for issuing claims in the Employment Tribunal are very short.
We are experts in bringing claims in the Employment Tribunal. If you think you’ve been dismissed or treated unfairly we offer free first advice.