In July, employment tribunal fees were declared unlawful but what now? Coodes Solicitors Employment lawyer Philip Sayers says that there are still many unanswered questions.
When employment tribunal fees were declared unlawful by the Supreme Court this summer, they were abolished with immediate effect. Because of that decision, no new cases have been subject to the fees, which previously ranged between £390 and £1,200.
When the announcement came, the Government confirmed it would reimburse tribunal fees – worth around £32million – to claimants. However, it has still not said when or how this will happen.
Previously, when claimants won a case, the employer would generally be ordered to reimburse them for the tribunal fees. It is worth noting that the Supreme Court did not overturn that particular power, so it is unclear whether those respondents who lost their cases will now be able to recover their fees. And if they are to be paid back, will this come directly from the Government or via the claimants who are reimbursed for paying the fee in the first place?
It has been speculated that the Government may seek to introduce a new fee charging system for Employment Tribunals. However, they have not yet announced any plans on that.
One important issue the decision has raised is what it means for those claimants who argue they were deterred from pursuing a claim because of tribunal fees. They would ordinarily be well out of time to pursue a claim. However, because Tribunal fees have now been deemed to have been unlawful, they might be able to now argue for an extension to the usual time limits. I would strongly suggest that anyone who is in this position seeks legal advice sooner rather than later – the longer you wait the less likely you are to succeed in arguing your claim should be allowed to proceed.
So, for now it is a case of watch this space. Somehow I doubt the Government will be in a rush to confirm their plans for reimbursing more than £30million of fees.
For more information on this or any Employment enquiries contact Philip Sayers, Employment team, Coodes Solicitors on 01872 246200 or email@example.com.