Rachael Drane, Solicitor Apprentice in our Employment team, discusses the latest updates as the Ministry of Justify re-introduces fees in Employment Tribunals.

As part of The Sherrards Training Academy, we have asked our Legal Assistants and Trainee Solicitors to write articles to support their learning, and also to ensure they start to build on their own personal brand. This article has been fact-checked and proofread by Head of the Employment department, Mark Fellows.

On Monday the government issued a consultation paper which proposes re-introducing fees in Employment Tribunals and the Employment Appeals Tribunal, with the main aim ‘to contribute to the continuous improvement of His Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service and reduce the cost to the taxpayer to fund these services’. The new proposal comes nearly 7 years after the Supreme Court ruled the previous charging regime as unlawful when trade union Unison successfully argued that it prevented thousands of employees from securing justice.

The proposed fee is £55 to bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal, which is considerably modest in comparison to the previous fee regime This is a one-off fee which is £55 irrespective of the type of claim (but some limited claims will be exempted) or whether the claim is brought by a single claimant or multiple claimants. Unlike the 2013-2017 Tribunal fee regime, no hearing fee will be applied under the government’s most recent proposals.

To start an appeal in the Employment Appeals Tribunal, the same fee of £55 would also apply.

A system for remission from fees would be available for those who genuinely cannot afford to pay the fee (as defined by the government).

It is thought that the proposal may act as an incentive for parties to apply their mind to settlement and engage in negotiations early in the process through ACAS, without the need to proceed to issuing actual claims in the Tribunals, thereby helping to alleviate the huge pressures currently faced by the Tribunal service. It is questionable whether such a modest fee will actually have this impact, but at the same time, it was recognised that if the fee was too high, it might be open to further challenge from the Unions.

The consultation runs for 8 weeks and closes on 25 March 2024 – please stay tuned for further updates from the Employment Team.