The Supreme Court abolished the need to pay for employment tribunals on 26th July 2017. You can now receive a refund for your tribunal fees. From 15th November 2017, you are now able to have your fee reimbursed.
The Government has estimated that they will need to spend £33 million to refund everyone eligible for the reimbursement. As well as the removal of this system, the Government pledged to pay you back any tribunal fees that you paid during four years that the requirement was in place.
Employment tribunal fees reimbursement pilot scheme
The first stage of the reimbursement process has started with an initial focus on reimbursing claimants. The amount to be refunded is dependent on the type of claim that you initially made and the point that the application progressed to.
Employment Tribunal fees were either £390 or £1200, but you had to pay in two stages. There was an initial fee that was followed by a hearing fee that was paid shortly before the hearing. If there were delays with the proceedings before the cost became payable, the claimant could now apply for their hearing fee to be reimbursed. Applicants that are successful with the scheme will receive 0.5% interest on the repayment amount.
The pilot scheme saw up to 1000 claimants that were contacted by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service. The claimants were able to apply for reimbursement of their fees. Where there is a claim involving multiple people, the refund will be made to the individual who paid the fee.
Will you receive any interest on the amount paid?
As well as the full refund of the amount initially paid by you, you will also receive interest on the refund amount you will receive. Interest will be at a rate of 0.5% from the date that you paid for the fee to the date you receive the refund.
How do you apply and which form should you use?
To be eligible for the refund of your fees, the following conditions must apply to you:
- If your claim was against one employer.
- You have a valid UK bank account.
- You have not changed your name since you first paid the fee.
You can make an application for the reimbursement online, or you can apply by post or email using the following three forms:
- If you were the claimant and you have already paid your fees, you will need to fill out form 1-C.
- If you were the Respondent and received an order to pay the fees, you will need to fill out form 2-R.
If you are a representative or sponsor and you paid the charge on behalf of another person, or if you were the lead claimant in multiple claims, you will need to fill out form 3-S.
On your application form, you must declare how much you paid for your initial fee.
Can employers apply too?
Respondent employers can apply via an online process for the reimbursement of fees that they were ordered to pay by the Employment Tribunal. An employer is ordered by the Employment Tribunal when an employer is unsuccessful in their defence, and financial compensation was ordered to pay the claimant their fee back that they had previously been required to pay.
The crucial part of the process is the order received from the Employment Tribunal; reimbursement to employers is restricted to certain circumstances where the employers:
• Were ordered by the Employment Tribunal to pay back the fee to the claimant.
• And can show that they have paid the fee to the claimant.
This means the Government will exclude any fees that were paid back to the claimant by the employer linked to the settlement amount. It appears that the reimbursement in these circumstances is usually down to an agreement between the parties themselves and Her Majesty’s Court and Tribunal Service will not get involved in this arrangement. Other fees that have been paid by employers, for example, for judicial mediation, can be reclaimed. Third parties like trade unions will also be able to apply for reimbursement. However, this will only be in cases where they have paid fees on behalf of the claimants.
What if you did not file your claim because of the fees in place? Can you bring your claim to Employment Tribunal now?
The claim will have to be filed in the usual way, and at the same time, you will also need to apply for an extension for extra time to submit your claim. The application for an extension request must provide two things.
Firstly, reasonable proof that it was not practical for you to serve your claim within the limitation period, to begin with. Secondly, that it is reasonable to allow this extension now, the employment tribunal may wish to see evidence of your financial position, for example, bank statement or contract or employment and will consider the promptness in which the claim is being brought to them.
What happens if you received a cost award – can you apply for reimbursement?
It is possible that the party ordered to pay the tribunal fee can apply for a refund of this fee. When completing the application, the party in question will need to have to hand a copy of the order they received. It explains that the other party were to pay the fees and also will have to provide evidence that they have paid you and that you received the payment.
What happens if you paid the fee for the claimant under a settlement agreement – can you apply for a refund?
The scheme can not currently refund the fees to a Respondent who has reimbursed the claimant for these fees as part of a settlement agreement.
Replacement Fee Scheme Likely
Whilst the Government has not confirmed that there will be a replacement fee system put in place. Current commentary from Government appears to indicate that this is likely as it was not the existence of the scheme which was unlawful in the first place, but it was the level at which the fees were set.
If you think you may need support with claiming back your employment tribunal fees, please contact us and speak to one of our friendly employment solicitors. They are here to help you and guide you through the process.
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