Employment Tribunal Fees Abolished
On the 26th July 2017 in a surprise ruling the Supreme Court ruled that Tribunal fees which were introduced by the government in 2013 were unlawful and any fees paid would need to be repaid, around £32 million in total. The fees started at around £160, and increased to between £230 and £950 for further hearings. For certain claims claimants had to pay up to £1,200.
Unison who brought the claim argued that the fees prevented thousands of employees from getting justice if they are badly treated by their employers. Statistical evidence before the Supreme Court showed that Employment tribunal claims fell by 70% after fees were introduced and whilst recognising the role that fees can play clearly felt that the correct balance between fees and access to justice had not been achieved in this case.
Reacting to the judgment, Law Society president Joe Egan said: ‘These fees placed an insurmountable barrier in the way of tens of thousands of people. Access to justice is a fundamental right – if you can’t enforce your rights then it renders them meaningless. [This] decision will serve as an urgently needed wake-up call – justice must never be a luxury for those who can afford it, it is a right we all share.’
This is an important decision which is likely to see an increase in Employment Tribunal claims as employees are once again able to more easily access the Tribunal service. This will also have a knock on effect for employers who can expect to receive more claims than they have been over the last few years.
At Robinsons we regularly advise both employers and employees on employment issues and provide representation at Tribunal if necessary so contact us if you have an employment matter you would like to discuss.