The government published today its response to the public consultation on Employment Tribunal fees. The story has reached the news, together with the government’s planned introduction date of “summer 2013″ (which, if nothing else, contradicts the general practice in employment law of only making new changes from April or October of any year).
The government’s ostensible justification for fees has shifted to some extent. At one time the primary reason given for fees was that they would reduce the number of weak claims, but obviously this was wrong – they will reduce the total number of claims (60% of which overall are of course won by claimants), but there is no real reason to think that the axe will fall harder on the claims. Now, the primary justification for fees is austerity; fees are necessary to make the system pay for itself, or more accurately start paying for itself. The government accepts that the proposed fees are too low to achieve that, and has structured into its proposals plans to increase fees hereafter.
The majority of those responding to the Consultation opposed fees in principle and fees only for claimants (the document reports that the for most of the proposals around 67% of those responding were against); but the Coalition proposes to press on regardless.
Daniel Barnett has published this summary of the amount of fees, which is a valuable simplification of several tables in the document:
“level 1 claims (the very straightforward ones such as unlawful deductions – there is a very long list in the Response Document) – £160 issue fee; £230 hearing fee
level 2 claims (pretty much everything else) – £250 issue fee; £950 hearing fee
Employment Appeal Tribunal – £400 appeal fee; £1,200 hearing fee
there are several other fees, eg £60 for an application to dismiss following settlement and £600 for judicial mediation”
Without having checked back against the original consultation paper, these fees do just seem a little lower to me than those in the consultation document, for which I suppose we should all be grateful.
Also, the government has dropped its discriminatory and nasty plan to nudge discrimination claimants in particular towards agreeing a capped award at the outset in return for a slightly lower fee.
Save for those modest changes, fees are to be introduced without concession.