On 29 July 2013, new employment tribunal fees came into force. The major change was the introduction of fees but there are other changes which employers should be aware of.
The ET1 form, on which a claim is made, has been revised and when submitting the ET1 by post (as opposed to online) an additional form must be submitted alongside it which states whether the claim is being made on behalf of one person or more than one person; this information is needed to calculate the fee which is due to the tribunal. The new ET1 also has a part to fill in for cases where the Respondent was not the Claimant’s employer; this situation may arise when a Claimant argues that they were discriminated against during a recruitment process. In discrimination cases, the Claimant can also state what they would like to happen to mitigate the effect of the discrimination on them.
There is also a new version of the ET3 form, on which a response to an ET1 is made. The ET3 now asks the Respondent whether they have a disability and need assistance with the claim; this question was previously only asked of the Claimant.
A new “sifting” stage has been introduced to claims. A tribunal judge will review the paperwork before the hearing to ascertain whether or not the claim has a reasonable prospect of success. It is expected that this will avoid weak claims getting to tribunals.
Case management discussions and pre-hearing reviews will be combined into one preliminary hearing.
Alternative dispute resolution will be strongly encouraged by tribunals wherever practical and appropriate.
Rules relating to interest on unpaid tribunal awards will change. Instead of interest becoming payable 42 days after a judgement, interest will be payable from the day after judgement is given, unless the full amount is settled within 14 days.
Tribunals will have the power to make detailed costs assessments in situations where costs are over £20,000. They may also order a party to pay a deposit in respect of a specific allegation (rather than in respect of the whole allegation as was the situation previously). This deposit must be made in order to continue with their claim and is generally required because the tribunal considers that the likelihood of the party having to make a pay-out after the tribunal is fairly high.
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