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Employment Tribunal Fees

Employment Tribunal Fees

Following the introduction of fees today in the Employment Tribunal, Andy Williams, Legal Director at Charles Russell LLP, commented: “This marks a radical change in the history of employment law.  Never before have employees been charged to bring their claims in the Tribunal.  This now puts Employment Tribunals in a different position to other Tribunals - such as those dealing with immigration and asylum issues, special educational needs for children, or social security benefits - which do not charge fees.  The theory behind the introduction of fees is simple - to oblige those who can afford to pay, to contribute towards the cost of running the Employment Tribunal system (a system that is currently funded by the tax payer).  There has been much speculation over the extent to which the new fees are intended to persuade potential Claimants with weaker claims from bringing or pursuing claims.  Whether or not that was the intention, it is likely that some Claimants will be put off bringing a claim for financial reasons.

“That is why the new fee structure is accompanied by a system of fee remissions, which enables Claimants to avoid paying some or all of the fee normally payable if they meet the relevant criteria.  As with any means tested benefit, the fee remission system has its critics.  However, the entire fee remission system for all the Courts in the country is likely to be overhauled in the Autumn, so the issue of fee remission in the Employment Tribunal is likely to remain a live one for some time to come. 

“Whilst most employers will welcome the introduction of fees if the effect (if not the intention) of the new system may be to reduce the number of claims brought by disgruntled former employees, there is a danger that the new fee system may well end up merely increasing the size of settlement packages on many occasions.  This way the cost of the new fees may end up ultimately being borne by employers after all.  One thing that is certain is that this is a time of great change in Employment Tribunals - as well as the introduction of fees, Tribunals now have much wider powers to deal with claims proactively.  Employment law is indeed entering into a brave new world.”

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