Employment Tribunal appeal could see fees reduced

Employment tribunal fees could be reduced as the result of a fresh appeal against their introduction, legal experts predict.

Since the fees were introduced in July last year, the number of employment tribunal cases has reduced dramatically.

In the last quarter of 2013 claims across the UK dropped by 79 per cdent and in the first quarter of 2014 by 81 per cent compared to the previous year.

For some claims, the cost in tribunal fees has been as much as £1,200.

Unison’s initial appeal against the fees was dismissed earlier this year by the High Court and its case to the Court of Appeal is due to be heard on Tuesday and Wednesday next week (21 and 22 October).

Unison had argued that the fees did not allow for the EU principle of effectiveness, making it virtually impossible or excessively difficult for claimants to exercise their EU rights.

Stephen Elliott, a partner in employment law at Langleys Solicitors, said: “The High Court rejected most of Unison’s arguments except for the principle of effectiveness and said there was not enough evidence to show the effect the fees were having.

“However, the stark drop we have seen in the number of employment tribunal cases would now appear to give the required evidence for the second appeal.

“If Unison is successful in its claim, it does not necessarily mean that fees will be abolished. Instead, it could lead to a significant reduction in the level of fees or an expansion of the fee remission process to cover a greater proportion of potential claimants.”

Under the Employment Tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunals Fees Order 2013 claimants have had to pay an issue fee of £160 or £250 depending on whether theirs is a Type A or Type B claim.

Type A attracts the lower fee and includes relatively straightforward claims in relation to wages, time off work and redundancy payments. Type B incurs the higher fee and includes unfair dismissal and discrimination claims.

Where a case is not settled or withdrawn, there is a further fee for a hearing – £230 for a Type A claim and £950 for a Type B claim.

Stephen added: “If Unison’s appeal fails, the costs of going to a tribunal will continue to be prohibitive for many people who wish to pursue claims against their employers.”

Stephen Elliott

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