New Tribunal Charges - Good News For Chamber Members?

Thu, August 1st, 2013

Hill Dickinson comment on the new employment tribunal charges

Sweeping changes to the Employment Tribunal’s fee structure could shape the legal landscape for local employers for years to come.

The headline reform introduced is that claimants will now have to pay to settle their grievances against their employer in an Employment Tribunal with effect from 29 July 2013.

The fee structure has been introduced to absorb some of the £74m running costs of the Employment Tribunals and the Employment Appeals Tribunal from the tax payer.

The General Secretary of Unite, Len McCluskey, described the changes as “…a throwback to Victorian times”.

The changes are largely seen as employer friendly but will they achieve what they are supposed to?

Key points

1. For claims lodged on or after 29 July 2013, there will be two main charging points. First, on issue of the claim and second, prior to the final hearing.

2. Different fee levels will apply depending on whether the claims are a “Type A” or a “Type B” claim. Type A will include claims such as unpaid wages and redundancy payments and Type B, unfair dismissal and discrimination. For Type A claims, the issue fee will be £160 and the hearing fee will be £250. For Type B claims, the issue fee will be £230 and the hearing fee will be £950.

3. Successful claimants will be able to recover their fees against the employer at the hearing.

4. Low income claimants may be exempt from the fees via the “Remission Scheme”. The Remission Scheme is still under review, but for the present, it is likely to include those claimants that qualify for Job Seekers Allowance.

5. The rules are subject to challenge in both England and Scotland. In England, Unison is seeking a judicial review action of the new rules in England. Put simply, their challenge is that there should not be a ‘price on justice’. It is expected that we will hear the outcome of the review in October this year.


• In theory, we should see fewer claims in the Tribunal system. It is hoped that the new fee regime will deter the vexatious claimant whose only goal is to seek a commercial pay off.

• In contrast, those employees who lose their job could be in a far better position than claimants remaining in employment. The remission scheme could mean that most unfair dismissal claimants will not incur a fee.

• The problem with type A claims is that workers with relatively small claims for unpaid wages and holidays will be deterred from pursuing their statutory rights as the fees may be disproportionate to the potential award. This may encourage some employers to take advantage of their employees in the event of a payment dispute.

• It remains to be seen what impact the Rules will have on how employers manage employees in the workplace. In some ways, it may benefit the iniquitous employers more than the fair ones. In our experience, employees who have confidence in how their employer has managed workplace disputes are less likely to pursue claims. We strongly recommend that employers still consider due process when managing issues in the workplace.


Employers should also be aware that the compensatory award cap has changed for ordinary unfair dismissal claims (Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013). For claims lodged after 29 July 2013, Tribunals will now look to award the lower of £74,200 (the previous cap) or 52 weeks' gross pay. This means the average UK worker seeking redress in the Tribunal will be entitled to a compensatory award of approximately £25,000.

Should you have any queries on the new fee regime or any other employment issues, you can contact Mark McKeating of Hill Dickinson LLP on 0151 600 8000 or

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