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← Overview Database of Innovative Social Policies in Europe

Tribunal fees

Country of implementation
United Kingdom
General short description of the innovation
In July 2013, the Coalition Government introduced fees in employment tribunals for the first time. This means that an employee?s claim against the employer in the Employment Tribunal will require paying a fee first. The two-stage fee structure involves payment on an ?issue fee? both at the time the claim is lodged at the tribunal, and when it is brought to an actual hearing. The issue fee can amount between 160 and 1,500. The following fee can be between 230 and 5,700. The amount of each fee depends on the type of claim. The claimant has to pay the fees initially but the ultimate responsibility falls on the losing party.
Target group
Total Population
Policy Field
  • employment
Type of Policy
  • public
Duration of the policy
Since July 2013
Scope of innovation
  • Spatial coverage: national
General description of (intended) objectives and strategies
The main argument for introducing the fees has been that the system is expensive to run and those who use it should help pay for it. Thus, users of the tribunal system should bear some of its cost, currently running to around GBP 84 million a year.
Type of innovation
  • new policy, practice or measure
New outputs
  • regulations of the labour market
Intended target group
employees
Working age population
  • main source of income: paid work
Actors involved in policy-making/implementation and/or evaluation
  • central state
Intended output
  • regulation of the labour market
Clarification of outcomes in terms of impacting resilience and labour market inclusion
UNISON has applied for a judicial review on the introduction of the tribunal fees, partly on the basis that other first-tier tribunals in the UK do not require issue fees and that it will prevent people from exercising their employment rights. It has just lost the first round if its fight, but is looking to progress the action. Another argumentation against the fees stresses that as many unemployed claimants with income below a given threshold will have their fees waived, any reduction of the burden on the taxpayer could be limited. Business organisations in the UK have largely been supportive of fees, on the basis that they will help deter weak, misconceived and vexatious claims.
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