Various reforms to the employment tribunal system have been announced over recent months.
Fees for employment tribunal claims
The Government has confirmed it intends to introduce fees for bringing employment tribunal claims in the "latter half of 2013". Fees will be charged at two intervals in the process, firstly at the issue of a claim and secondly prior to the hearing.
There will be two levels of fee. Level 1 fees will generally be for claims for sums due on termination such as redundancy payments. Level 2 fees will be payable for other claims such as unfair dismissal, discrimination and whistleblowing.
| Level 1 issue fee
| Level 2 issue fee
| EAT appeal fee
| Level 1 hearing fee
| Level 2 hearing
| EAT hearing fee
From summer 2013, mediation by a judge will cost £600 (rather than the £750 proposed in the 2011 consultation).
Other fees will also be payable e.g. £60 for an application to dismiss following settlement (for both levels of claim).
Those on low incomes will not have to pay: the same "remission system", which currently operates in the civil courts, will be adopted. Tribunals will be given a discretionary power to order the losing party to pay any fees of the successful party.
New employment tribunal rules
Lord Justice Underhill published his review into the Employment Tribunal Rules on 11 July 2012. The Rules have been redrafted from scratch and they are less than half the length of the old.
The aim was to make the drafting in the new Rules simpler and more accessible, particularly for those who may be unrepresented. The new Rules will, broadly, follow the structure of the existing Rules and many substantive provisions have been left unamended. However, some important changes have been made, including:
- All tribunal cases to be subject to an initial sift. An Employment Judge will view the papers after the claim form and response have been received and consider whether any directions are required in order to get the case ready for hearing and, to enable strike-out at an early stage of claims, responses or parts thereof which have no reasonable prospect of success.
- The current distinction between case management discussions and pre-hearing reviews will be abolished so that there will simply be preliminary hearings in order to decide either matters for case management or substantive preliminary issues.
The Rules will now be subject to public consultation and we await the timeline for this but it is hoped that the new improved Rules will be in force early next year.