Government reforms (2): Tribunal fees

tribunal fees - stack of pound coinsThe Employment Tribunal fee scheme is now into its second month and we can update you on the latest news:

Judicial challenge: We’re still waiting to see whether the fee scheme will enjoy a long and healthy life.  This is because of the two parallel judicial review cases brought in England and in Scotland by those objecting to the introduction of payments.  We now know that the English judicial review, brought by UNISON, has been listed in the High Court for 22 and 23 October 2013 and the parallel review in Scotland took place on 26 September 2013.  The Ministry of Justice has undertaken to refund any Tribunal fees paid if the fee scheme is ultimately held to be unlawful.

New fee remission structure:  This scheme for the remission (the waiver of part or all) of fees for less wealthy applicants is going to come into force on 7 October 2013.  The Government plans to introduce a single fees and remission system across all Courts and Tribunals. The new system will comprise of both a disposable capital and an income test.

  • ‘Disposable capital’ test: This relates to household capital. For Tribunal claims, where fees are less than £1,000, the disposable capital threshold is £3,000, meaning that anyone with disposable capital at or above that level will not qualify for fees remission. For those over the age of 61, there will be a single disposable capital test of £16,000, irrespective of the level of fee to be paid.
  • Income test: If a person qualifies for fees remission under the disposable capital test, it is then necessary to consider household income, with the relevant thresholds in gross monthly income as follows:
    Single, no children:                  £1,085
    Couple, no children:                 £1,245
    Single, one child:                      £1,330
    Couple, one child:                    £1,490
    Single, two children:                 £1,575
    Couple, two children:                £1,735
    Single, each additional child:   £245
    Couple, each additional child:  £245
    Recipients of income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pension Credit guarantee credit and some recipients of Universal Credit will automatically be deemed to fall below the income threshold.

Applicants will not be required to provide documentary evidence of disposable capital but will be required to provide evidence of income. The time period for applying for retrospective fees remissions will be three months.