With the recently published employment tribunal statistics showing a surge in the number of claims being made since Employment Tribunal fees were abolished in July 2017, the Law Society Gazette has reported that the UK Government is considering reintroducing Employment Tribunal fees.
Responding to a question from the House of Commons Justice Committee about whether fees would be reintroduced but at a lower level, Richard Heaton, permanent secretary to the Ministry of Justice said that he thinks a fee scheme will be available but it had not been finalised and there were no immediate plans to reintroduce one. However, he saw a fee scheme being possible that is progressive and allows people who cannot afford it not to pay, albeit it was still being worked on.
Fees were held to be unlawful by the Supreme Court in R (on the application of UNISON) v Lord Chancellor in July 2017 because they interfered unjustifiably with the right of access to justice, frustrated the operation of Parliamentary legislation granting employment rights and discriminated unlawfully against women and other protected groups. While acknowledging that any new fee regime would need to be consistent with what was said in the judgement, Mr Heaton highlighted that it also confirmed that charging fees was, in principle, acceptable.
So while fees may well return to the Employment Tribunal in due course we can probably expect them to be charged at a lower level, and it seems unlikely that they will be reintroduced in the near future.