The Ministry of Justice has finally announced a long-promised review of the impact of the introduction of employment tribunal fees and has published terms of reference. It will look at how successful the introduction of fees has been in achieving the original objectives, while maintaining access to justice. The original objectives were:
– To transfer some of the cost from the taxpayer to those who use the service, where they can afford to do so.
– To encourage the use of alternative dispute resolution services, for example, ACAS conciliation.
– To improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the tribunal.
When employment tribunal fees were introduced in July 2013, the Government made a commitment to review their impact and this review comes as the introduction of fees approaches its second anniversary.
The review will also consider the effectiveness of the current fee remissions scheme, which was introduced in October 2013.
The review will gather evidence to support its analysis and will also consider other factors that have influenced trends in the number of employment tribunal cases. It is expected to be completed later in 2015. However, any changes recommended by the review to the structure and level of fees or to the fee remissions scheme will then be the subject of a public consultation. Therefore, it seems unlikely that any reform to the fees and remissions system will be brought into force soon (subject, of course, to the outcome of UNISON’s judicial review challenge to employment tribunal fees).