Written submissions by the President and Regional Employment Judges

Morrish SolicitorsEmployment, Site NewsLeave a Comment

The Ministry of Justice commenced a review of Employment tribunal fees on 11 June 2015.

On 28 September 2015, the President and Regional Employment Judges submitted written evidence for this review and this is a brief summary of their views and recommendations:

  • The introduction of fees has not been successful in achieving the original objectives of transferring a proportion of the costs from the taxpayer to those who use the Tribunal where they can afford to do so.
  • There is little evidence that fees may have served to encourage parties to seek alternative ways of resolving their disputes.
  • The Judges are concerned that as many as 6 out of 10 potential claimants who entered early conciliation neither settled their potential claim via ACAS nor subsequently presented a claim to the Tribunal.
  • The imposition of a fee charged to the Respondent has not served to improve the take-up of judicial mediation conducted by the Employment Tribunal itself, despite the fact that what remains in the hearing lists are higher value, more complex, multi-day cases that would otherwise be ripe for judicially- assisted alternative dispute resolution.
  • The introduction of fees has had an adverse effect upon access to justice.
  • Further, they state that the fees and remission scheme acts as a very clear disincentive to bringing what might otherwise be claims that are not obviously weak or unmeritorious.

 

They have made the following recommendations:-

  1. There should be three, not two, tracks of cases: Small track, Standard track and Open track cases.
  2. Attention should focus upon how fees might be calibrated between the three tracks. They do not provide recommendation for what the fees should be.
  3. This system could be modified further by providing a discount for presentation online, for dealing with correspondence electronically and for payment online. A further discount could be offered for dealing with ‘hearings’ online or on the papers (without a hearing in person), where appropriate to do so.
  4. Further charging points could be incorporated e.g. where standard case management orders have been issued or where a case management hearing has been held, a fee might be chargeable for applications made thereafter or further preliminary hearings or case management.
  5. Respondents should pay response fees and hearing fees. This would aid cost recovery but would also promote settlement.
  6. Consideration should be given to the remission scheme. This is currently in place for parties who may have difficulty paying the current fees.
  7. Thought needs to be given to how fees are recovered or repaid.
  8. Fees should be recoverable as part of the statutory debt payable under the insolvency provisions.

 

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