Supreme Court Rules on Employment Tribunals Fees

If you are an employment law practitioner, and you haven’t heard by now, let me assist:

The verdict: Employment Tribunals fees are unlawful and will be quashed.

Shouts of jubilation are no doubt being heard in Unison HQ (along with the rest of the employment world) as the introduction of Tribunals fees (which led to a 70% reduction in claims) is found unlawful.The Supreme Court, in allowing Unison’s appeal noted the following:

  • Employment tribunal cases are important for society as a whole. They are a source of public policy reasoning
  • The small claims court fees are much less than fees for the tribunal
  • The reduction in claims showed that the Fees Order prevents access to justice. To keep it would be ultra vires
  • It was indirectly discriminatory to charge higher fees for type ‘B’ claims (e.g. indirect discrimination claims) than type ‘A’ claims.

What is the next move? What will happen next?

It is unlikely that the fees regime will be abolished in its entirety, and the government may consider a lesser fee for tribunal claims.
How the Employment Tribunal is going to immediately deal with claims coming in from today is unknown. But if you thought they were slow before…

The Supreme Court did say that all fees paid between 2013 and now will have to be refunded by the Lord Chancellor’s Department, although how this will be implemented and carried out is yet to be seen.

Spare a thought for those who were unable to bring a claim due to not being able to afford the tribunal fees. Being out of work and having to fund a claim against your employer is not a circumstance everyone is prepared for. Whether there will be an extension of time granted in such scenarios (or that will be proved or even decided, I know not) or whether there is nothing that can be done remains a mystery.

Well done to the UNISON team!