What happens now with the re-imbursement of Employment Tribunal fees?
It is now some 6 weeks since the Government was forced to abandon employment tribunal fees following the success of Unison in challenging their legality all the way to the Supreme Court, which overturned the previous High Court and Court of Appeal rulings.
Employment Tribunal fees were originally introduced by the Coalition Government back in July 2013 with Class A and Class B fees of up to a total of £1200.
The reason fees were introduced in the first place were largely political and were aimed at reducing the large number of claims going through the Tribunal system, and in-particular to deter vexatious litigants.
The introduction of fees did dramatically reduce the number of employment tribunal claims being issued and some regional Tribunals didn’t have any claims at one point.
The Government has since indicated that all Claimants who paid out fees from 2013 will be re-imbursed, however there has been very little detail about the process involved or the timescales.
The issue has been raised since Parliament has convened following the summer recess where the Minister of State – Dominic Raab was repeatedly asked by the opposition when the details of the reimbursement process would be announced. The Minister of State’s response was that the Government would reveal plans shortly.
During these parliamentary questions the Minister of State also revealed that those individuals who were unable to bring employment tribunal proceedings because fees prevented them from doing so, would be able to re-apply outside the usual three-month limitation period associated with most claims. Such claims would it was stated be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Interestingly the Minister of State admitted that the Government ‘got the balance wrong’ but asserted that fees still have a part to play in the Tribunal system.
It will be interesting to see how quickly the Government announces the process for reimbursing Claimants and whether this will be automatic or whether Claimants will have to apply for their fees to be re-imbursed.
We also await the details as to how Claimants who were denied access to justice due to the imposition of fees will be able to issue claims out of time and the criteria for doing so.
It is a case of watch this space.
For more information please contact Steven Eckett at firstname.lastname@example.org