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.

If you have any further questions regarding this topic or any employment issues, please contact Linky Trott or any member of the Edwin Coe Employment Team.

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