Employment Tribunal Fees Are Unlawful
In 2013 Tribunal Fees were introduced so that employees or workers looking to bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal had to pay up to £1,200 to bring a claim. The union, Unison, has been challenging this decision ever since. Their challenges have been disallowed at every stage of the court’s appeal process. However, today, we have heard that the Supreme Court have allowed their appeal.
Why was the Employment Tribunal Fees appeal allowed?
The Supreme Court found unanimously that the current fee regime is unlawful. For one they found that it prevented access to justice. They said that the cost of a tribunal claim fee is higher than that in the Small Claims Court and were disproportionate. Furthermore, employment tribunal cases are important for all of society, not just the individuals bringing the cases.
In addition, the cost of bringing a discriminatory claim is higher than bringing a wages claim for example, which the Supreme Court felt in itself was indirectly discriminatory. They also found that the fees were potentially discriminatory against women, as many women looking to bring claims for maternity discrimination for example would be in part time jobs etc. and may not have the financial means to bring a claim.
What does this mean?
- All fees paid by Claimants between 2013 and now, will be reimbursed. We understand that figure to be in excess of £27,000,000;
- It’s unlikely that tribunal fees will be abolished altogether and no doubt there will need to be a consultation by the Government to ascertain whether or not a new fee regime should be brought in and what that would look like;
- For now, no fees are payable in bringing a tribunal claim;
- The Tribunal Service will have to look at rewriting its Rules and updating its online Claim Form; and
- For those individuals who didn’t bring a claim because they couldn’t afford the fee, we may need to watch this space. It’s possible that Tribunals may be faced with the argument that it’s “just and equitable” to extend limits to allow these claims in and in other cases they may have to determine if it was “not reasonably practicable” for the claim to have brought. Let’s wait and see.
For more information on Employment Tribunal Fees Talk to Tollers. We’re HeRe For You.