The government announced the first stage of its employment tribunal fees refund scheme on 20 October 2017.

As set out in our previous post  the Supreme Court in the UK handed down its judgement on 26 July 2017, holding that the introduction of fees in the Employment tribunals was unlawful.  As a result of that decision the Government must now seek to repay claimants who have paid fees.

The first stage of the phased implementation scheme means that up to around 1,000 people will be contacted individually and given the chance to complete applications. The opening phase of the refund scheme will last for around 4 weeks and the full reimbursement scheme will then open up.  The Government is also working with trade unions in relation to large multiple claims.

As well as being refunded their original fee, successful applicants to the scheme will also be paid interest of 0.5%, calculated from the date of the original payment up until the refund date.

Further details of the scheme, including details of how it can be accessed, will be made available when the scheme is rolled out fully. However, the Government has indicated that those who have paid Employment Tribunals fees, but have not been invited to take part in the initial stage, can pre-register an interest in applying when the full scheme is rolled out. We await full details of the scheme to see whether this pre-registration includes respondents who reimbursed fees to a claimant following a decision in the employment tribunal claim, or whether it is limited to claimants who will have to apply on the respondent’s behalf.

It is estimated that the cost of the tribunal fees refund, including interest, is approximately £33 million.