Ministry of Justice (MoJ) permanent secretary Richard Heaton has raised eyebrows by confirming to MPs that Employment Tribunal fees may be re-introduced.
Richard Heaton suggested that the MoJ could set a level so as to be “proportionate and progressive and maintain access to justice”.
Employment Tribunal fees, first introduced in 2013, were scrapped following the landmark Supreme Court decision in R (Unison) v Lord Chancellor (Unison) on 26 July 2017 after being deemed unlawful and a barrier to access to justice.
Since that case (according to government statistics) the number of claims made to Employment Tribunals has risen by around 90%. Claimants who paid fees, or respondents who were ordered to pay claimants’ fees, have been entitled to apply for a refund of the fees paid and the MoJ has to date paid back around £16 million to claimants. It is unclear how the re-introduction of a fee scheme would affect individuals, who paid Employment Tribunal fees under the old scheme, that have yet to apply for a refund.
Richard Heaton confirmed that whilst there are “no immediate plans” to return to a fee scheme, the MoJ is “still working on it”.
Edwin Coe will continue to follow this matter as it develops.
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