Claims made to the UK employment tribunals or Employment Appeal
Tribunal ('the UK Tribunals') after 29 July 2013 will now
attract fees. However, this has caused such a stir that on the same
day the fees were implemented, Britain's biggest trade union,
Unison, was granted the right to challenge them.
Under the new fee regime, an individual employee or their trade
union representative (if the employee is supported by a trade
union), will need to pay a fee of between £160 and £250
to submit an employment claim (depending on the complexity of the
issues). A further fee of either £230 or £950 is
required to proceed to a hearing. The UK Tribunals have justified
the introduction of fees on the basis that users of the system, who
can afford to pay, should contribute to its running cost. Given
that no fees were payable previously, the reception has generally
been, putting it politely, frosty.
The idea of tribunal fees is not new. The subject has been
debated at length and, in Jersey, has been addressed by the
Employment Forum in 2010 where proposals were made to try and
provide a balance between deterring genuinely vexatious tribunal
claims (claims without any merit), whilst not deterring genuine
claims. Therein lies the conundrum, are tribunal fees a
proportionate mechanism towards ensuring that only genuine claims
are progressed, or do they provide an unwelcome financial barrier
to those who simply want to enforce their employment law
In Jersey and Guernsey, it is currently free for a claimant to
submit a claim to the employment tribunal. However, in the event
the claim is found to be without merit, the successful party is
unable to recover any legal costs it may have paid dealing with the
action. It follows that, for the time being, there is no obvious
deterrent to vexatious claimants simply trying their luck in the
hope of receiving a settlement sum by way of a nuisance payment.
Would the introduction of employment tribunal fees be a welcome
deterrent to those looking to take advantage of the system? In this
author's view, quite possibly.
However, in contrast, should employees be required to pay a fee
simply to be afforded an opportunity to enforce their employment
rights? Mr Predergast, of trade union, GMB, clearly doesn't
"The imposition of such fees represents the latest in
number of attacks on employment rights by the Government. Bad
employers are being given the green light to continue exploiting
their staff. The charging of £1,200 effectively means that
many workers will lose any change they had to seek redress if they
are poorly treated".
Having regard for the current commentary on the issue, it
appears that Mr Predergast's view is shared by many. It is
worth pointing out that the UK Tribunals will have the power to
order the unsuccessful party to reimburse the fees paid by the
successful party, but that does not surmount the issue of having to
pay the amount initially.
We await further UK development with interest, and note that, at
the time of writing, employment tribunal fees will need to be paid
at least until Unison makes its case for their review in October
This battle is, of course, being waged over seas and Channel
Islanders are unlikely to feel the waves arising from the
introduction of UK tribunal fees for the foreseeable. However,
there can be little doubt that their introduction will spark fresh
debate, and, ultimately beg the question as to whether or not we
are going to once more follow the UK's lead?
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