This morning the Supreme Court has overruled a Government decision to charge fees for Employment Tribunals, ruling them unlawful.
Employment tribunal fees were introduced by the government in 2013 in an effort to reduce the number of malicious and weak cases. However, as a result of the fees, the numbers of cases brought in front of a tribunal have dropped by 79% over three years.
Trade union Unison claimed that the introduction of fees was unfair and prevented workers accessing the justice they needed. The fees range from £390 to £1,200 depending on the complexity of the case (discrimination cases often cost more) which is simply not a viable option for low paid workers.
Previously, the High Court and Court of Appeal both ruled in favour of the government’s decision prompting Unison to take their fight to the Supreme Court. Following a two day hearing on the case in March 2017, the Supreme Court announced their decision; “the government was acting unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it introduced the fees”.
After the ruling was announced, The Ministry for Justice promised that the government will be taking immediate steps to remove the fees and said they will make refunds to those who have already paid. These refunds are expected to amount to around £32 million.
The decision has been welcomed by trade unions including Unison who believed that law-breaking bosses were being “let of the hook” and it is now hoped that with the fees removed, all workers will have the access to justice they are lawfully entitled to.
It remains to be seen now whether or not the fees will be abolished entirely. It could be the case that the Government will issue a consultation paper and possibly bring in a new fees regime, with fees at a lower level and/or involving a fee payable by the employer when the employer lodges its ET3.
Farleys’ employment law and HR solicitors can offer expert advice and representation to workers and employees seeking to take their employers to an employment tribunal. To get in touch with our specialists please call 0845 287 0939 or submit your enquiry online.