Supreme Court Rules Employment Tribunal Fees are unlawful

The Supreme Court ruled on 26th July 2017 that the government had acted unlawfully and unconstitutionally by introducing fees for those bringing claims to an employment tribunal.  The fees of up to £1200 were introduced in July 2013 by Chris Grayling, the Lord Chancellor at that time, with the stated aim of reducing costs and ostensibly to discourage malicious claims.  However a review in 2017 on the impact of this change has shown there has been a 70% drop in the number of cases brought to the employment tribunal since fees were first introduced.

This has led to the belief that the fees have prevented comparatively large numbers of people with potentially legitimate claims from pursuing claims in the Employment Tribunal.   The public sector union – Unison – has waged a four-year legal battle to get the fees scrapped and has argued the fees prevent workers from seeking justice and were discriminatory toward women due to the short timescales to bring maternity discrimination cases.  The supreme court ruling was unanimously against the government and in favour of Unison.

Speaking on behalf of the government after the ruling, justice minister Dominic Raab said: “The Supreme Court recognised the important role fees can play, but ruled that we have not struck the right balance in this case.” He announced that the Government will stop charging employment tribunal fees immediately and refund those people who have already paid them.  The amount to be refunded is expected to be in the region of £27 million payable to the thousands of people who have paid them since July 2013..

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