Tribunal fees online refund system live
by Nick Humphreys & Alex Brooks
Following on from the Supreme Court’s Decision in July that Employment Tribunal fees are unlawful and must be repaid, and our update in October regarding the implementation of a trial system for facilitating refunds, we are pleased to report that the Ministry of Justice has now introduced an online refund application system, which is accessible to all.
The online system allows everybody that paid an Employment Tribunal fee (since fees were introduced in 2013) to apply for and obtain repayment in full of all fees paid, plus interest at an annual rate of 0.5%, calculated at a daily rate from the date on which each particular fee was paid.
It appears that individuals themselves (rather than their legal representatives) shall have to complete the applications; however, individuals’ legal representatives from the time at which any fees were paid should be able to assist individuals with providing any information that may be necessary, such as the particular date on which a payment was made and details of the particular claims in respect of which payments were made.
Leaving aside this welcome update regarding refunds of fees already paid, it remains unclear whether there will be any special measures introduced, or allowances made, to allow individuals to belatedly bring claims in the Employment Tribunals where they had previously chosen not to commence proceedings as a result of not wishing to pay fees. As discussed in our previous updates on this matter, it seems likely that there will be a test case before long, in which a potential claimant may argue that it is just and reasonable for a Tribunal to extend the time limit for bringing a claim, on the grounds that they would have brought the claim in time if they had not been required (at the relevant time) to pay a fee in order to commence proceedings. As to whether a Tribunal would accept this argument, we can only wait and see, with “wait” being the operative word – due to the backlog of claims in the Employment Tribunal that has arisen since the abolition of fees, such a decision is likely to be at least 18 months to 2 years away from being made.