The ending of employment tribunal fees is very likely to lead to an increase in the number of claims, perhaps even reaching the levels seen before the introduction of fees. Employment solicitors we work with have certainly welcomed the news!
Here is a brief reminder of the Fast Track scheme for enforcement via a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO), which was introduced in 2010 to simplify the process for claimants.
Fast track scheme
Once the claimant has their award, whether via the employment tribunal or ACAS, they or their solicitor will instruct an HCEO using form N471 for employment tribunal claims or N471A for ACAS settlements.
There is no requirement to obtain leave from the court to transfer up the award to the High Court for enforcement, nor is there a minimum value for the award to be enforced by an HCEO. There is a court fee of £66 for the writ of control. Some claimants may be able to apply for fee remission from the court.
Enforcement stages and fees
As with any writ of control, a notice of enforcement will be sent to the defendant, giving 7 clear days’ notice of enforcement.
If they pay during this time – the full value of the award, judgment interest, the court fee for the writ and the £75 plus VAT compliance stage enforcement fee, the enforcement is completed. The HCEO will retain the money recovered for the statutory 14 days, under the Insolvency Act 1986.
If payment is not made, enforcement moves to stage 1 and thereafter through stage 2 to the sale or disposal stage, if payment is not forthcoming at any point. The fees are the same as for the enforcement of a money judgment under a writ of control, with one exception.
Should the employment tribunal award prove unenforceable, the claimant is not required to pay the £75 + VAT compliance fee, meaning that their only outlay in an unsuccessful case will be the £66 court fee. If enforcement is successful, the court fee is recovered from the defendant.
Employment tribunal fee refunds
The Government has announced that those who paid employment tribunal fees will receive a refund. We are still waiting for details on how this process will work and will bring you details when these are made available.
Claims not made as a result of the fees
In early September Minister of State Dominic Raab said in Parliament that those who were unable to bring a claim because of the cost of the fees will be able reapply outside the normal three-month limitation period and that cases will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
This may also include cases that were halted part-way through as the claimant could not afford the fee for the final hearing.
It does look as though the tribunals may well have a heavy workload ahead of them, with the combination of late claims and a rise in the number of new claims.