At the start of 2017 the Ministry of Justice published a consultation: review of the introduction of fees in the Employment Tribunals, available to download here.
In July 2013 fees were introduced for people take a claim to an Employment Tribunal - these fees can reach £1,200. This resulted in a barrier to people accessing justice in the employment context. CAS and the University of Strathclyde produced a joint report evidencing this in March 2015: The Price of Justice – the impact of Employment Tribunal Fees on CAB Clients in Scotland, available to download here.
The Employment Tribunal in Scotland (ET) is currently managed by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service. Under the Scotland Act 2016 responsibility for a number of reserved Tribunals, including the ET and the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT), are to be devolved to Scotland. The powers to be transferred will cover the management, operation, and administration of the ET and EAT, and will therefore include the powers to remove fees. The Scottish Government in their 2016-17 manifesto made an undertaking to remove Employment Tribunal fees in Scotland once they have the powers to do so.
CAS responded to this consultation because it is not yet agreed between the UK and Scottish Governments when the transfer of powers will take place. If the transfer does not take place prior to the implementation of any changes pending the outcome of this consultation, Scotland will continue to be subject to the level of fees currently under consideration.
The Ministry of Justice have proposed leaving the level of fees as they currently are, but extending the eligibility criteria for the Help with Fees scheme to cover people broadly up to the level of those earning National Living Wage.
- Employment Tribunal fees continue to act as a major barrier to accessing justice in Scotland
- Employment Tribunal fees should be removed, or substantially reduced, across Great Britain in line with the Scottish Government's undertaking to remove fees in Scotland once they have the powers to do so
- The powers over the management, operation, and administration of the Employment Tribunals, and particularly those to allow for the removal of fees in Scotland, should be transferred to the Scottish Government as soon as possible
Our full consultation response from March 2017 is available to download below.