Tribunal fees were introduced on 29 July 2013.
Claimants alleging unfair dismissal, discrimination, whistleblowing and equal pay (whether they are making one claim or more) (Type B claims) will have to pay a fee of £250 when the claim(s) are made. All "simple" claims (e.g. unauthorised deductions from wages, redundancy pay or holiday pay) (Type A claims) will attract a lodging fee of £160. If claims of both Type A and B are made at the same time, the fee will be £250.
The amount in dispute does not affect the fee payable.
Claimants who are on low incomes may be excused from paying all or part of the fees (the remission system).
No fee is payable by the Respondent in order to file a defence.
Claims lodged without a fee or application for remission will be rejected. This is likely to be particularly relevant in relation to claims lodged at or near the normal 3 month time limit for claims.
A Hearing fee is also payable by the Claimant if the case is not settled. For a Type B claim (e.g. unfair dismissal) the fee is £950. For a Type A claim, the Hearing fee is £230. The fee is not refundable if the Hearing does not go ahead. The exact date when the Hearing fee is due is yet to be determined but it is likely to be 4–6 weeks before the Hearing. If a Hearing fee or remission application is not made by the due date, the Tribunal will send what amounts to a reminder with a new date for payment. If payment or a remission application is not made by that date, the claim(s) will be dismissed.
Respondents will also have to pay fees for counterclaims and for certain applications. Judicial mediation, for example, will cost Respondents £600, which is likely to mean very little mediation.
Respondents who lose may have to reimburse the Claimant for fees paid where the Tribunal considers that “any claim or response had no reasonable prospect of success”.
Where there are multiple Claimants, the fee increases. For example, for between 2–10 Claimants alleging unfair dismissal, the issue fee is £500 and the Hearing fee is £1,900.
The Remission System
No fees are payable by a Claimant who is receiving one or more of the qualifying benefits:
Working Tax Credits (provided no Child Tax Credit is being paid);
Income based job seekers allowance;
Guarantee credit under the State Pension Credit Act; and
Income related Employment and Support Allowance.
A Claimant (with no children) is also entitled to full remission if their annual income does not exceed £13,000 (£18,000 if he or she has a partner). The threshold increases by £2,930 per child.
Low disposable monthly income may also lead to full or partial remission.
What should you do?
An unlooked for consequence of the remission system is that new claims will not be sent to the Respondent until an application for remission has been determined.
Some commentators are suggesting that, at least at first, remission applications could take up to 6, or in some cases, 9 months to determine. This means that the Respondent will be entirely unaware that a claim has been brought against it for over half a year.
Of course, where court proceedings are involved, ignorance is rarely bliss. Long delays will increase the likelihood of documents going astray and personnel changes, leading to the loss of key witnesses.
Many employers will have a policy of retaining job applications, interview notes and personnel files for a relatively limited period.
Until everyone has a better understanding of the practical effects of fees and remissions, we strongly suggest that all employment-related documentation is kept for at least 12 months.