Supreme Court rules that employment tribunal fees are unlawful (July 2017)
Fees charged to those bringing employment tribunal claims are unlawful the Supreme Court has ruled, and the government will refund up to £32 million to claimants.
Following a case brought by the trade union Unison, the UK’s highest court has asserted that the government was acting unlawfully and unconstitutionally when the fees were introduced.
The coalition government introduced fees of up to £1,200 in 2013 in order, it said, to reduce the number of malicious and week cases that were being pursued.
However these fees were opposed by opposition parties and trade unions who felt that they restricted access to justice for ordinary employees.
The decision from the Supreme Court came after the union had previously lost in both the high court and the court of appeal, and was the final chance to overturn the fees system.
The 7 person tribunal panel gave a number of reasons for its judgement including concerns that fees prevented access to justice, citing the reduction of claims made in the period since they were introduced.
In addition the panel found that fees were ‘indirectly discriminatory under the Equality Act 2010’ as women were put at a particular disadvantage.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “The government has been acting unlawfully, and has been proved wrong – not just on simple economics, but on constitutional law and basic fairness too.”
In addition to the removal of fees, the government has already made a commitment to reimburse all fees in the vent of the Supreme Court judgement going against them.
The full judgement can be found here: <https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2015-0233-press-summary.pdf>