The Return of Fees in the Employment Tribunal

Advice  |   30 January 2024

Written by
Julian Munroe, Associate Solicitor

The ability to lodge a claim in the Employment Tribunal (“ET”) and Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) has been free since the 2017 Supreme Court judgment of Unison v The Lord Chancellor where it was ruled that the applicable fees (which had led to a 70% reduction in claims) were unlawful and “unjustifiably interfered with the right of access to justice”.

Yesterday the Government announced the launch of a consultation proposing the re-introduction of fees. The consultation proposes introducing “modest” fees for issuing proceedings in the ET and the EAT. The consultation is aimed at employers, employees, trade unions, employer organisations, representatives and other interested parties in Great Britain.

The proposed cost to issue proceedings in each jurisdiction is a one-off “Claim Issue Fee” or “Appeal Fee” of £55 to issue proceedings in the ET and EAT respectively.

The Consultation proposes exemptions to the required fees for individuals based on financial means and other limited circumstances.

Should the consultation be approved the “estimated real-terms income” that will be generated from the proposed fees is between £1.3m - £1.7m from 2025/2026.

The consultation will run from 29 January 204 until 25 March 2024 and responses are welcomed from anyone with an interest in or views on the subject covered by the paper.

The consultation sets out that the proposed fees have been designed to meet the tests of affordability, proportionality and simplicity. The previous employment tribunal fees introduced in 2013 attracted fees of just under £400 for straightforward disputes and hearings, whilst the more complex matters required fees of over £1,000. The 2017 Unison judgment abolished the old fee system as it was considered to be too restrictive and a barrier to bringing proceedings.

It is questionable whether the “modest” new fees proposed would similarly be considered a barrier to justice. With such significant returns forecast in such a short time it will be interesting to see whether any persuasive arguments are put forward to challenge the reintroduction of some level of fees.

Thackray Williams are experienced in advising Claimants and Respondents throughout all stages of the ET and EAT and achieving favourable outcomes. If you require any support or advice in any type of Employment Litigation please do not hesitate to get in touch with any of our experts on 0208 290 0440.

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