Employment Tribunal fees were introduced in the UK in 2013 and ranged from £160 to £950 for issuing claims and subsequent hearing fees.
Following the introduction of Employment Tribunal fees Unison, (the public service union) claimed that the tribunal fees prevented thousands of employees, particularly those on low incomes, from getting justice if they are badly treated by their employers. It was also argued that the tribunal fees were indirectly discriminatory.
The High Court in 2013 and the Court of Appeal in 2015 found in favour of the Government and ruled the fees were not unlawful.
Unison continued the fight and appealed to the Supreme Court where a two day hearing took place in March 2017. Today the judgment has been given and the Supreme Court has overruled all previous judgments and confirmed the fees to be unlawful and indirectly discriminatory.
In para 119 of the judgment Lord Reed states, “The Fees Order is unlawful under both domestic and EU law because it has the effect of preventing access to justice”.
However, the future remains somewhat uncertain. It is likely that a new fees regime will be introduced by the Government in due course which will change the level and timing of the fees to seek to eliminate the discriminatory aspect. Current Tribunal rules will also need to be re-written and the online claim submission website updated.
If you have pursued a claim between 2013 and now it has been agreed fees paid will be refunded. How this will be done in practice is yet to be confirmed.
Employment Solicitors at Co-op Legal Services consider the judgment to be a great outcome ensuring more employees are able to access justice. People on low incomes who have been treated unfairly are now more likely to be able to pursue their employer’s for the appropriate compensation.
If you consider you may have an employment claim against your employer, contact our Employment Solicitors to discuss how we may be able to help you.
For employment legal advice call our Employment Solicitors on 03306069589 or contact us online and we will call you.