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MoJ plans to charge employment tribunal fees of up to £1,750

14 December 2011

Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly has launched plans to charge fees ranging from £200 to £1,750 to bring employment tribunal claims.

He said the MoJ was considering two approaches in a consultation paper published today. Under the first, the claimant would be charged an initial fee of between £150 and £250 to begin a claim, with an additional fee of between £250 and £1,250 if the claim goes to a hearing.

The second would require the claimant to pay a single fee of between £200 and £600 for a claim of up to £30,000, rising to £1,750 for claims above this amount. Under both options, there would be fee waivers for people on the lowest incomes.

Djanogly said it was “not sustainable” for the taxpayer to cover the £84m cost of funding the employment tribunal system.

He said there were 218,100 claims in 2010-11, a 44 per cent increase on 2008-09, with the cost to the taxpayer rising from £77.8m to £84m over the same period.

Djanogly said that, as well as reducing the cost to the taxpayer, the fee proposals aimed to encourage both sides to consider carefully the strength of their case and whether they could resolve it outside the tribunal.

“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, confidence to create new jobs without fear of being dragged into unnecessary actions.”

Djanogly said the government would continue to fund ACAS, but gave no details of increased funding to take into account the anticipated rise in demand.

The MoJ said the consultation would close in March 2012, with a view to introducing fees in 2013 at the earliest.

Victoria Phillips, head of employment rights at Thompsons, said the proposal to charge upfront fees in employment tribunals was “a further kick in the teeth” for workers.

“It is inevitable that fees at any level will make it more difficult to pursue a claim against an employer,” she said. “But the options being proposed will make it impossible for most.

“Fees do not distinguish between genuine and unmeritorious claims, they just prevent the claims of people unable to pay, many of whom will have lost their jobs or are owed money by their employers.”

Phillips added: “If you bring a civil claim in the county court for more than £3,000 the fee is £325. It is unjustifiable for a sacked worker to face fees of up to £600 and additional amounts of up to £1,750 to pursue an ET claim.”

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