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HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has published a letter to stakeholders, confirming that the implementation date for fees in the employment tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal will be Monday 29 July 2013. The letter states that from this date, all employment claims and appeals will be required to "pay a fee or provide an application for fee remission against that fee" under the HMCTS remissions scheme.
A draft statutory instrument to implement the new fees regime was laid before Parliament in April 2013. The government recently consulted on the remissions scheme and aims to implement the new scheme in October 2013.
A claimant will now be required to pay a fee at the issue of their claim (an issue fee). If the claim will proceed to a full tribunal hearing, the claimant will be required to pay a subsequent fee (a hearing fee), provisionally around four to six weeks before the hearing date (this timing will be kept under review, in light of respondents' concerns regarding exchanging witness statements). Tribunal judges will have a power to order the unsuccessful party to reimburse the fees paid by the successful party, although this will be at the judge's discretion rather than automatic. Guidance on reimbursement will be produced, which will include guidance on reimbursement of multiple fees to successful parties.
The level of the fee will depend on the type of claim. There are two types of claim: Level 1 claims and Level 2 claims. Level 1 claims comprise more straightforward and lower value claims, generally for sums due on termination of employment (such as unpaid wages, redundancy payments and payments in lieu of notice), which are less costly to administer and adjudicate. Level 2 claims comprise all other claims, including unfair dismissal, discrimination, equal pay and whistleblowing claims.
Level One Claims: Issue Fee £160 Hearing Fee £230
Level Two Claims: Issue Fee £250 Hearing Fee £950
Where more than one claimant is bringing the same claim, the two-stage fee structure takes into account the number of claimants who are bringing the claim. Where there are between two and ten claimants, the issue and hearing fees will be the fees for single claims multiplied by two. Where there are between 11 and 200 claimants, the fees will be the single claim fees multiplied by four. Where there are 201 or more claimants, the fees will be the single claim fees multiplied by six. (This is different to the proposals in the consultation, which suggested five bands of multiplier rather than three.)
Changes to Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure Too
Subject to Parliamentary timetabling and approval, the government intends to introduce the new Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure at the same time as implementing the new fees system.
The new Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure affected include the following areas:
Comment from EmployEasily HR Services:
"These reforms are designed to deliver the two stated objectives of the Underhill review which were - certainty and consistency. In looking at the detail of these changes it is difficult to see how the desire to introduce more flexibility can be reconciled with the objectives of certainty and consistency." (Gary H Sutherland, Managing Director)