The decision to introduce fixed fees for two “levels” of claims for employment tribunals was announced on Friday to the acclaim of business groups but against the wishes of trades unions and some politicians.

Following a consultation on their introduction, it has been decided that there will be two levels of claim; level one will cost £160 as an issue fee with a hearing fee of £230, while there will be an issue fee of £250 with a hearing fee of £950 for level two, with the complexity of the individual case deciding which level applies.

At the moment it costs nothing to bring a claim.  The new system will come into force from next year but the Government has confirmed that many people on low incomes may still not be required to pay the full fees. This will become clearer after a further consultation later this year as part of a wider review.

Announcing the decision, Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly said: “We want people, where they can, to pay a fair contribution for the system they are using, which will encourage them to look for alternatives.

“It is in everyone’s interest to avoid drawn out disputes, which emotionally damage workers and financially damage businesses. That’s why we are encouraging quicker, simpler and cheaper alternatives, like mediation.”

And Alexander Ehmann of the Institute of Directors said it strongly supported the UK government’s decision to introduce the fees to make people “think twice before submitting vexatious or weak claims”.

But Counsel General Theo Huckle, who opposed the plans during the consultation process earlier this year said: “True and free access to justice for all citizens, whether their claims are popular or unpopular, is an integral part of the democratic settlement in the UK. This decision totally undermines that principle.

“The process of approaching a legal court or tribunal is off-putting for most citizens. The thought of doing so without direct legal advisory support and representation is daunting in the extreme.”