Ministers say the move will relieve pressure on businesses and reduce the £84m annual cost to the taxpayer.

The Ministry of Justice has now begun a public consultation on the proposals, which are designed to ensure that those who use the system make a contribution
towards the costs.

The consultation offers two options for consideration:

  • Option 1: an initial fee of between £150-£250
    for a claimant to begin a claim, with an additional fee of between
    £250-£1250 if the claim goes to a hearing, with no limit to the maximum
    award; or
  • Option 2: a single fee of between £200-£600 –
    but this would limit the maximum award to £30,000 – with the option of an
    additional fee of £1,750 for those who seek awards above this amount.
  • Both options would allow the tribunal to order the unsuccessful party to reimburse
    the other side’s fees.

It’s hoped that the proposals will discourage unmerited claims and encourage early settlement.

Many employers believe that the current system puts them at a disadvantage even if they are blameless because complainants have nothing to lose by going to a tribunal and have few incentives to choose conciliation or mediation.

The Government fears that excessive claims may be a barrier to employment with firms reluctant to recruit because they fear they could be “taken to a tribunal
on a whim” if something goes wrong.

Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly said: “We believe that people should pay a fair amount towards the cost of their case. Fee waivers
will be available for people on low incomes to protect access to justice.

“Our proposed fees will encourage businesses and workers to
settle problems earlier, through non-tribunal routes like conciliation or
mediation and we want to give businesses – particularly small businesses – the
confidence to create new jobs without fear of being dragged into unnecessary

There were 218,100 claims to Employment Tribunals in 2010-11, a 44% increase on 2008-09. The introduction of fees will bring employment tribunals in line with civil courts where claimants already have to pay to bring a case.

The consultation closes in March, but the fees are unlikely to be introduced before 2013-14.

We shall keep clients informed of developments.

Please contact us if you would like more information about tribunal claims or any
aspect of employment law.

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