Government's review of ET fees
Tuesday 14th February 2017
The Government has published its review of the introduction of ET fees.
Although there is evidence that ET fees have discouraged people from bringing claims, the Government believes that “there is no conclusive evidence that they have been prevented from doing so”, highlighting instead the increased numbers using the conciliation services of ACAS.
The review does acknowledge that the fall in claims is much greater than anticipated, which is stated to be “troubling”, the review states that the decrease is a “broadly positive outcome”.
The original three objectives of introducing fees – transferring some of the costs away from the tax payer, encouraging alternative dispute resolution and maintaining access to justice – have “broadly” been achieved.
The Government believes any concerns can be addressed through fee remission and proposals for reform are primarily limited to the Help with Fees scheme. The Government plans to increase the gross monthly income test threshold from £1,085 to £1,250 per month for a single person. This corresponds to the National Living Wage, although the threshold will not increase as the NLW rises. There will be additional increases for couples and those with children. The Government does not, however, intend to increase the disposable capital test threshold which must also be satisfied to qualify for Help with Fees.
An immediate exemption from fees for certain proceedings involving employees of insolvent employers seeking payments from the National Insurance Fund has been introduced.
The consultation seeks proposals on raising awareness of and simplifying the Help with Fees scheme and views on the proposed changes to the monthly income threshold. It closes on 14 March 2017 and full details can be found here:
Shortly after the consultation closes, Unison’s appeal against the rejection of its challenge to the introduction of ET fees is expected to be heard by the Supreme Court on 27 and 28 March 2017.
All information in this update is intended for general guidance only and is not intended to be comprehensive, or to provide legal advice.