Employment Tribunal fees ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court in the long-running case brought by the Trade Union, UNISON. The General Secretary for UNISON, Dave Prentis said: “This is absolutely a tremendous victory, it’s probably the biggest victory of employment rights in this country.”

UNISON argued that tribunal fees prevented workers getting access to justice as they were unaffordable. Tribunal fees range between £390 and £1,200, which covers an application and hearing fee.  The Supreme Court also found fees were indirectly discriminatory towards women on the grounds that more women brought discrimination cases. Discrimination cases cost more because of the complexity and the length of time it takes to get to a hearing. The government now faces having to refund Claimants up to £32 million in fees!

Fees were introduced in 2013 to reduce the number of weak claims being brought by Claimants. This had an immediate and significant impact on the number of tribunal claims being brought and reduced access to justice for many Claimants. There was a 79% reduction in tribunal claims over the last three years. The Government commissioned a review of tribunal fees but concluded that fees were not restricting access to justice and decided not to reduce or abolish them.

The removal of tribunal fees is however likely to have a negative impact for employers, who may find that Claimants will be revert back to bringing weak claims in an attempt to obtain a quick pay-off. Employers will need to reflect on this significant change and remain willing to continue to defend unmeritorious claims at every stage of the tribunal process.

Finally, this unexpected removal of tribunal fees may adversely affect the efficient running of the tribunal system as it will no longer be able to rely on additional funding from tribunal users. This could result in delays in the management of tribunal cases by HM Courts and Tribunals Service and increase legal fees for both employers and Claimants.

For further information on the implications of this Supreme Court Judgement call Henry Doswell of Doswell Law on 01233 722942 or email him at info@doswell-law.com

Disclaimer: Whilst every reasonable effort is made to make the information and commentary contained in this blog accurate and up to date, Henry Doswell takes no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it. The information and commentary in this blog does not constitute legal advice to any person on a specific case or matter. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal advice from a lawyer about your case or matter.