Employment Tribunal Reforms
Following reports earlier in the summer of a fall in both the number of tribunal claims and individual cases, the Ministry of Justice has just released details for the charging structure that it is planning to introduce from summer 2013. Between 1st April 2011 and 31st March 2012, there were a total of 186,300 recorded claims, a fall of 15% on the previous years, with single claims falling by 2% and multiple claims falling by 19%. Within the same report; there were more cases received than cases disposed of during 2011/12. 75% of single claims were disposed of within 32 weeks or less, but for the same proportion of multiple claims to be disposed of, takes 3 – 4 years.
Why are these figures relevant? Well, the rationale for the planned charging structure for Employment Tribunal claims to be introduced in 2013, is to bring down the number of tribunal claims and perhaps it is it’s impending arrival that is having an early impact on the desire of individuals to submit claims... We can only speculate on this at this stage...
Employment Tribunal Charging Structure
There is currently no fee payable by individuals wishing to pursue a claim through an Employment Tribunal, the full cost is covered by public funds i.e. the tax-payer; this currently costs the Country £84m each year, but this is about to change, with the introduction of a fee structure which will see some of the costs covered by the individual pursuing the claim. The charging structure, just announced by the Ministry of Justice, will see a range of fees for differing levels of claim, as outlined below: -
For claims which are considered to be straightforward and for which there are specific sums due; i.e. unpaid wages, holiday or redundancy pay, the initial fee to issue the claim will be £160, with a further fee of £230 payable if the claim progresses to tribunal. This latter amount will become payable around 4-weeks prior to the date of the hearing.
For claims which are not considered to be straightforward; e.g. unfair dismissal, equal pay, discrimination etc., there will be an issue fee of £250 and the fee for progressing to tribunal will be £950.
An alternative solution that will be offered to Applicants will be for a Judge to provide mediation and the fee for this service will be set at £600.
For cases which progress to an Employment Appeals Tribunal; further charges of a £400 issue fee and £1200 hearing fee will become applicable.
A further fee of £60 will be payable for an application to dismiss following settlement.
It is important to note that once the hearing fee becomes payable, it will not be refunded if a settlement is subsequently reached in the period between the payment of this fee and the hearing date. Also included within the charging structure will be provisions that will see unsuccessful parties within a tribunal repaying any fees paid out by the successful party and financial assistance for those on low incomes (as yet to be consulted on).