Employment Tribunal Fees Ruled as Unlawful by Supreme Court

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01 Aug 2017

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A landmark decision by the Supreme Court this morning has ruled that employment tribunal fees are unlawful.

Employment tribunal fees have raised around £32 million since their introduction in July 2013, with the thousands of individuals who have paid to take employers to tribunal set to receive refunds. The Ministry of Justice said the government would take immediate steps to stop charging fees and refund payments.

Amanda Beattie, Croner Litigation Expert, says: “The downturn in Employment Tribunal claims post the introduction of Employment Tribunal fees has been widely publicised and it was therefore inevitable that a Trade Union would launch a challenge against it. “The House of Commons Justice committee has also recently recommended the substantial reduction in Employment Tribunals. Therefore, it is not entirely unexpected that the Supreme Court has decided in this way. However, with no Employment Tribunal fees whatsoever, employers are likely to face an increase in Tribunal cases against them across the spectrum of possible claims.

"Although, given the Justice Committee’s recommendations, I consider it likely that the Government will attempt to introduce a revised fees regime with significantly lower fees at some point in the future."

The monumental decision is a result of a legal challenge from public service union UNISON. Unison General Secretary, Dave Prentis, described the ruling as a “major victory” for employees.

“The government is not above the law,” he said. “But when ministers introduced fees they were disregarding laws many centuries old, and showing little concern for employees seeking justice following illegal treatment at work. "The government has been acting unlawfully, and has been proved wrong - not just on simple economics, but on constitutional law and basic fairness too."

He added: "These unfair fees have let law-breaking bosses off the hook these past four years, and left badly treated staff with no choice but to put up or shut up. "We'll never know how many people missed out because they couldn't afford the expense of fees." For employers concerned by this news, or for any queries, don’t hesitate to contact us. Photo attribution: HTSABO

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