Number of tribunals rises after fees abolished

By Christine Hart, solicitor and head of employment law, KBL.

The Employment Tribunal fee regime was abolished back in July 2017 following an appeal to the Supreme Court, a step taken as it was considered unlawful and prevented access to justice for many individuals.

The fee regime was thought to be responsible for a drop of more than 75 per cent in the number of claims issued in the Employment Tribunal since it was first introduced in 2013. This obviously came as welcome news to employers.

The decision of the Supreme Court not only meant that fees would no longer be charged when a claim is issued, but that all fees paid since 2013 must now be refunded.

It has taken some time for the tribunal to pilot a workable refund scheme, however, this has recently been rolled out to the general public.

An application can be made online or via post and email. Forms are available for claimants to register for a refund, and also third parties who paid the fee on behalf of the claimant.

Additionally, employers who were ordered to pay the employment tribunal fee of a claimant who brought a claim against the business can apply for a refund using form 2-R. As approximately £33m (including interest) is to be refunded, it is currently unclear how long the refund process will take to complete.

Whilst there has certainly been an increase in claims issued since July 2017, it seems that the number of claims being pursued is not as high as pre 2013. It remains to be seen whether this is due to a cultural shift amongst employees or whether the number of claims issued will continue to increase.

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