From July 2017, employment tribunal fees were no longer chargeable. The Supreme Court ruled the system as unlawful, as they prevented access to justice.
As a result, employment tribunal fees refunds were offered to those affected. But since then, this has been subject to hearing outcomes and government rulings.
In this guide, we’ll look at why employment tribunal fees were repaid, how to apply for refunds, and whether the system will be reintroduced.
What are employment tribunal fees?
Previously, you had to pay a fee if you wanted to raise a claim to the employment tribunal (ET). So, in July 2013, the employment tribunal fee system was introduced.
The fees stood as an entrance payment, for anyone who wished to access legal courts. Once approved, the fees system was passed as a UK-wide law.
But since 2017, these fees were deemed illegal and were made subject to refunds.
How much were the employment tribunal fees?
The final fees amount was dependant on what type of claim was being raised.
Claimants paid around £250 to make a tribunal claim and £950 before a tribunal hearing–adding up to £1,200. And this amount doesn’t even include additional legal costs.
In some cases, claimants didn’t have to pay fees or were refunded straightaway. This was because:
- They were reimbursed after winning their case. Or,
- They received 'fee remission’ (pay little or zero fees due to their low income).
What were the consequences of the fees refund?
Since the abolishment of the fees system, tribunal claims have more than doubled (according to government research).
The Ministry of Justice dealt with tens of thousands of refund claims after being considered unlawful.
Previously, the fees made it extremely difficult for laypeople. The research found the amount was unreasonable for those on a lower household income.
Employment rights were neglected, particularly in females who faced indirect discrimination. A combination of both meant fewer people raised claims and suffered wrongful actions.
How to claim an employment tribunal fees refund
If you paid fees at an ET or ET Appeal–between the 29th of July 2014 and 26th July 2017–you should receive a refund.
Refund claims can be submitted by whoever paid the ET fee. I.e., the employer, the employee, or the employee’s representatives.
You can apply online if you:
- Haven’t changed your name since the tribunal claim.
- Raised one claim (during the provided time).
- Have a UK bank account.
You can also apply by email or post, but there are two forms to choose from.
A form 1/2-CR is used if you:
- Made a claim and paid the fees yourself.
- Were ordered to pay someone’s fees or other legal fees during a hearing.
- Were the lead claimant in a joint claim (with less than 10 people).
Or you can use a form 3-S if you:
- Paid fees for someone else making the claim.
- Were the lead claimant in a joint claim (with more than 10 people).
If applicable, the refund amount should be sent over to the relevant bank accounts (with 0.5% interest). The payment will also be confirmed through writing, either via a letter or email.
If an ET ordered you to reimburse a fee (paid by a claimant), you should receive the payment.
However, if this was done through a private settlement claim, they will be eligible for the refund.
Will the employment tribunal fee refund system be reintroduced?
In 2020, there were reports on the fees system being reintroduced in the UK.
One idea involved revising the amount of fees paid. This may include setting a fair and fixed amount, which is protected against rises. This will make the system more affordable and compliant with legal rights.
Get expert advice on refunds for employment tribunal fees with Peninsula
Going through the ins and outs of a tribunal hearing can easily become complicated. One false move and you could end up paying more fees than you thought.
If you’re going through an employment tribunal, contact Peninsula. We offer employment tribunal advice from start to end–helping you protect your business.
We also have a 24/7 HR advice service which is available 365 days a year; with multi-lingual support and fully trained counsellors ready to help.
Want to find out more? Book a free consultation with one of our HR consultants. Call 0800 028 2420