Employment Tribunal Fees Unlawful

Employment Tribunal Fees Unlawful

Employment Tribunal Fees

Employment tribunal fees ruled unlawful

The UK Supreme Court has ruled that the employment tribunal fees system is unlawful, and the Government may now have to refund up to £32 million in fees paid by claimants over the past four years.

In 2013, the Government introduced a requirement for employees to pay a fee of up to £1,200 for bringing a case to an employment tribunal. The move was intended to reduce the number of frivolous and unsubstantiated claims.

However, the number of claims tabled reduced by as much as 79%, prompting trade union Unison to mount a legal challenge.

The Court ruled that the fees system was discriminatory. Discrimination hearings against employers were more likely to command higher fees due to their complexity and duration, and as more women than men brought discrimination cases against their employer, the judges decided that the existing system had itself discriminated against women.

The Court also added that the level of the fee would often have been greater than any financial reward granted to a winning claimant.

The introduction of fees may have been welcomed by many small business owners who had been forced to defend frivolous claims in the past, but of course the move was never going to be good news for ordinary employees.

Justice minister Dominic Raab MP said:

“We respect the judgement and we are going to take it fully on board and we are going to comply with it.

“The tricky, the difficult, the fluid balancing act that we’ve got is we want to make sure there’s proper access to justice, we want to make sure frivolous or spurious claims don’t clog up the tribunal and at the same time we’ve got to make sure we’ve got the right way to fund it.”

Unson general secretary Dave Prentis said of his organisation’s legal challenge:

“Unison took the case on behalf of anyone who’s ever been wronged at work, or who might be in future. Unscrupulous employers no longer have the upper hand.

“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.”

Tim Goodwin, associate at law firm Winckworth Sherwood commented on the effects of tribunal fees by commenting:

“Far from dissuading workers from bringing hopeless cases, the fees have discouraged genuine litigants from pursuing their rights simply on the basis that they cannot afford to pursue their employer.”

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