Government reforms (1): Tribunal fees – there’s more…

tribunal fees - stack of pound coinsWhat do we already know?

We reported in a Newsflash in March Claims heading down… and our June Newsletter Government reforms (1): Tribunal claims and fees – here to stay or gone tomorrow? that the number of Tribunal claims being brought was on the decline – most likely linked to the introduction of Tribunal fees in July 2013.   UNISON is challenging the Tribunal fee regime.

What’s new?

  1. The Government is planning to review the impact of the introduction of Tribunal fees. According to the Minister of State for Justice, Lord Faulks QC, “the Ministry of Justice is currently finalising arrangements for the timing and scope of the review to ensure that the impacts can be properly assessed”.
  2. The Government had hoped for £10m to be raised by Tribunal fees. However, according to the recent HM Courts & Tribunal Service annual report, the fee income generated was just under £4.5m from the end of July 2013 to 31 March 2014. This would be about £6.7m over a full year. The report also suggests that, having disposed of 38% more claims compared to 2012-13, Tribunals have the lowest level of outstanding single claims since 2007-08.
  3. The Government has published the 2013 Survey of Employment Tribunal applications, the first comprehensive survey of Tribunal users for five years. Although the survey was carried out before the fees were introduced, around half of those claimants surveyed said that if they had been required to pay a fee this would have influenced their decision to bring the claim. The number of people who might be put off by a fee was particularly high in younger age groups and amongst people in temporary and low paid jobs.
  4. The Government has simplified the fee remissions structure. With effect from 30 June:
  • applicants no longer need to provide original copies of documents – HM Courts & Tribunal Service will accept photocopies;
  • applicants won’t have to tell HM Courts & Tribunal Service the exact amount of disposable capital they have – just the relevant threshold it falls into;
  • bank statements can be printed copies from online banking systems; and
  • DWP letters can now be dated within the last three months (previously it had to be less than a month old).

Also, HM Courts & Tribunal Service has published new Guidance and a form to use when applying for remission from paying Tribunal fees, Court and Tribunal Fees – Do I have to pay them? Available here.