When fees were first introduced in the Employment Tribunal System last year, it was well documented that the fee remission system which accompanied the introduction appeared over-complex and caused significant delays in ET1 forms being processed and sent out to the Respondent. Just one year on and the Ministry of Justice has announced a simplification of the fee remissions system which came into effect from 30 June 2014. We report on these changes and report on recent news concerning the possible future of Employment Tribunal fees...
Changes to Fee Remission from 30th June 2014
- Changes aim to make the Guidance notes accompanying the remission system more “user-friendly.”
- Applicants will only have to tell the tribunal the relevant threshold their disposable income falls into - they will no longer have to detail the exact amount.
- Applicants no longer need to provide original copies of documents - photocopies will be accepted.
- Bank statements can be printed from online banking systems.
- DWP letters can now be dated within the last three months rather than within one month.
- The Ministry of Justice will only return original documents if the applicant requests this. If they do not include a stamped addressed envelope with their application, they will be charged for the cost of returning their items. The Ministry will not return duplicate documents.
The fee remission application form has also been simplified and if an applicant fails to provide a necessary piece of information the Employment Tribunals will endeavour to contact the applicant rather than simply rejecting the claim.
These changes should make it simpler and easier to applicants to understand the remission system and to make applications without fear of their claims being rejected and losing out of access to justice.
A future for fees?
Unison famously challenged the introduction of employment tribunal fees last year, arguing, amongst other this, that fees would deny access to justice and had a disproportionate impact on women. Their Judicial Review case was rejected in February 2014 on the basis that not enough time had yet passed to evaluate the impact of fees on Tribunal claims. The Court of Appeal has now granted Unison permission to appeal the Judicial Review decision, so we will wait to see if they will have more success this time around in the light of updated Tribunal statistics.
In the meantime, the Minister of Justice on 24 June 2014 confirmed that the government will be announcing a review into the impact of the introduction of fees for employment tribunal cases shortly.
The battle over the future of tribunal fees is not over yet!
Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.