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MoJ confirms fees for Employment Tribunals, in a bid to encourage mediation

David Woods , 16 Jul 2012

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The Ministry of Justice has confirmed it will introduce fees for users of the Employment Tribunal from the summer of 2013, in a bid to encourage employers and staff to mediate or settle disputes.

Following the Ministry of Justice's consultation with businesses and the public, some of the fees will be slightly lower than initially proposed in order to strike a fair balance between the needs of business and tribunal users. Bringing a claim or an appeal to the employment tribunal is currently free of charge with the full cost being met by the taxpayer.

By introducing fees, people using employment tribunals will start to contribute a significant proportion of the £84 million cost of running the system. The aim is to reduce the taxpayer subsidy of these tribunals by transferring some of the cost to those who use the service, while protecting access to justice for all. Fees are part of the Government's programme to promote early resolution of disputes in order to help individuals and companies to get on with their lives and businesses.

The intention is to encourage people to look for alternatives - like mediation - so that tribunals remain a last resort for the most complex cases. Taxpayers will continue to meet the full cost of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) which provides a free service to help workers and businesses settle disputes without the need to go to a tribunal.

Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly (pictured) said: "It's not fair on the taxpayer to foot the entire £84 million bill for people to escalate workplace disputes to a tribunal. "We want people, where they can, to pay a fair contribution for the system they are using, which will encourage them to look for alternatives.

"It is in everyone's interest to avoid drawn out disputes, which emotionally damage workers and financially damage businesses. That's why we are encouraging quicker, simpler and cheaper alternatives like mediation."

From summer 2013, mediation by a judge will cost £600 rather than the £750 proposed in the 2011 consultation. This offers a considerable saving on the £1,200 it would cost to take a 'level 2' claim all the way to full hearing.

The lower fee to take the administratively simpler 'level 1' claims to a full hearing will be £390 - which drops to just £160 if settled before the hearing fee is payable. Many people on low incomes may not be required to pay the full fees - under the same remission system which already exists for court users who pay fees to use the civil courts' services. Following this extension of this exemption system, the Government will review its use across both courts and tribunals and publish a consultation later this year as part of a wider review required by the introduction of Universal Credit in late 2013. Fees to use the employment tribunal will be payable in advance, and most types of fee will only apply to the person bringing the claim. However the tribunal will have the power to order the unsuccessful party to reimburse the fee to the successful party.

In practice, cases are often settled rather than there being a clear 'winner' or 'loser' and the issue of reimbursement would form part of the settlement. The introduction of fees is part of the Government's Employment Law Review which aims to maximise flexibility for both employers and employees while protecting fairness and providing a competitive business environment. The Review includes a package of reforms to streamline and modernise the employment tribunals system, including routing all claims to ACAS to offer early conciliation before going to a tribunal, and encouraging more use of mediation through a best practice project in the retail sector and also regional mediation pilots currently being developed in Manchester and Cambridge.

Responding to the announcement, Tim Thomas, head of employment policy at EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, said: "Fees are one way to encourage more responsible behaviour by tribunal users. We warmly welcome the announcement from the Government that realistic fees will be required from claimants in a way which will still preserve an incentive to settle. Employers have faced a steep rise in speculative claims in recent years, many of which are withdrawn or struck out leaving employers picking up the bill. Claimants risk little under the current system. Fees, if properly introduced, will help check this rise.

"However, the current remission system will result in most claimants paying little or nothing, and whilst we welcome the Government's intention to consult on changes in the Autumn, unless most claimants have to pay at least some fee, today's announcement will have little impact."

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber added: "It is vital that working people have fair access to justice, but introducing fees for tribunals will deter many - particularly those on low wages - from taking valid claims to court. Many of the UK's most vulnerable workers will simply be priced out of justice.

"The government's remission scheme to protect low-paid employees is woefully inadequate, and workers will be more likely to be mistreated at work as rogue bosses will be able to flout the law without fear of sanction."

 

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Tribunal Fees

Richard Bone 16 Jul 2012

It is vital that working people have fair access to justice, but introducing fees for tribunals will deter many - particularly those on low wages - from taking valid claims to court. Workers would be denied their right to justice. while Bad employers will yet again have no fear of justice, were is the justice in this policy, all you hear about is bad employees taking the poor bosses to court, shocking how dare they do that, they should be happy to be abused taken advantaged off don’t they not know that there is plenty on the dole who would do their job...they should feel lucky to have a job, what a load of rubbish if employers stuck to the rules of employment which are the most draconian in the whole of Europe they would not be taken to Tribunal, But instead they complain that making it easy to sack someone and then taking their right to complain and have some form of justice a way is wrong, as this will not help grow the Economy if that’s the case why does the likes of Germany, France and Holland have a much better Economy than ours as well as having much better WORKERS RIGHTS to ours, stop blaming the working people and start looking at your own companies and management styles. Bad managers and Bosses do not produce the best workforce; good employers, managers and bosses reduce the need for Tribunals that’s how you stop claims, common sense really.

discriminatory legislation

JOHN A OGDEN 16 Jul 2012

There is logic to attempting to find a solution to the 'carte blanche' current ability to take your employer to the ET without any come-back. However, this attempt seems deliberately to flout the discrimination legislation as a very large number of potential claimants will be dissuaded from taking their employers to an ET because they will not be able to afford to do so as a direct result probably of their employers action! There must be more definite repayment instructions to the ETs on a successful employee claim if genuine claimants are not to suffer direct discrimination as a result of the introduction of these charges next year. I wouldn't be surprised to see a rise before then in constructive and discrimination claims in an attempt to beat the deadline with certain employers!

Not all there!

Peter Copping 16 Jul 2012

who pays for mediation? Will the TUs offer insurance? and anyway when do you pay... before or after ACAS? Only 35% of UD claims reach the tribunal but employers still spend pre ACAS. WHY? What about the other the elements of ETs' jurisdiction?

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