Employment tribunal claim fees could return
Marc Bloomfield
Fees for employment tribunal claims could be brought back, according to leaked correspondence between Ministry of Justice (MoJ) officials and the head of the Law Commission.
The Law Commission is an independent body that makes recommendations to the government on law reform. According to a story in the Times newspaper on Monday (15 June 2020), the commission has been requested to ‘provide recommendations for creating a coherent system for charging and updating fees in the future’. It is not clear from the Times story whether or not the government is examining reintroducing fees for all cases or just some categories such as discrimination claims. The MoJ told the paper that ‘no decisions’ had been made on the reintroduction of fees.
Fees for bringing claims to the tribunals were implemented in July 2013 against strong opposition from trade unions and other campaigning organisations, including LAG, concerned about the impact they would have on access to justice. The number of claims presented to the tribunals plummeted by just under 70 per cent after fees of £1,200 began to be charged to bring unfair dismissal and discrimination cases.1Review of the introduction of fees in the employment tribunals: consultation on proposals for reform, Cm 9373, January 2017, page 77.
A successful legal challenge to the implementation of the scheme was brought by the union Unison (R (Unison) v Lord Chancellor [2017] UKSC 51). As a result of the judgment in the Supreme Court, the government was forced to scrap the fees and introduce a system to reimburse claimants who’d paid to bring cases.
‘It is likely that any reduction in jobs caused by the COVID-19 crisis is going to cause a spike in employment tribunal claims,’ said Carol Storer, interim director of LAG. ‘Reintroducing the fees, particularly at this time, would show a callous disregard by the government for the rights of working people.’

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