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UK HR E-briefing - Tribunal fee refunds to begin

  • United Kingdom
  • Employment law - HR E-Brief

23-10-2017

Tribunal fee refunds to begin

Although a project that will primarily affect Government funds, rather than those of employers, employers will nonetheless have been awaiting news regarding the refunding of employment tribunal and employment appeal fees. This follows the Supreme Court’s decision in July that the fee regime was unlawful (see earlier briefing).

The Government has now announced the rolling out of a refunding scheme, initially through a 4 week trial process. Participants in the pilot will be contacted directly by the Ministry of Justice, inviting them to take part. This first batch of beneficiaries may well include employers who have already raised an enquiry about recovering fees they paid out to claimants, although the vast majority are likely to be individuals. Successful applicants can also expect to recover interest on their fee payments at 0.5%.

Looking ahead, the Government expects to issue guidance once the pilot is concluded, including details of how the scheme can be accessed. Employers who can show they paid a fee on behalf of a claimant or complied with a tribunal order to reimburse fees paid by another party, will then be able to seek recovery of those costs. Reimbursement will not be automatic and will be by application. In the meantime, anyone who wishes to register an interest in applying for a refund can do so by emailing ethelpwithfees@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk.

Notwithstanding this latest news, of greater immediate impact for most employers is likely to be the potential reinstatement of tribunal claims that were struck out in the last four years on the grounds of non-payment of fees. Employers need to be alert to the risk of old claims being resurrected, potentially leading to difficult legal arguments over feasibility, but also of new claims emerging out of time where the individual alleges they were they were deterred from bringing a claim in time due to the need to pay fees. Employers may wish to assess their potential exposure by trying to identify cases in which a claim, appeal or reconsideration application was dismissed for non-payment of a fee, although this information may not be easily accessed or indicative. Employers wishing to oppose applications for reinstatement will also need to act promptly on being notified that a claim or appeal has been revived.

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