The Fees Order (The Employment Tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal Fees Order 2013) was introduced by the Government with effect from 29 July 2013, where employment tribunal claimants and Employment Appeal Tribunal appellants had to pay Court fees to issue a claim and for the claim to proceed to a final hearing.
This was to reduce the number of malicious and weak claims brought against employers, although it led to a 79% reduction of claims brought over a three year period. From July 2013 to September 2013, the total number of cases had dropped from 7,240 to 1,207.
Trade union, Unison, sought judicial review and a quashing of the Fees Order arguing that the fees were unaffordable (fees ranged between £390 and £1,200), that they prevented access to justice, and were discriminatory. The challenge by Unison was rejected twice by the High Court and by the Court of Appeal.
The Supreme Court has now ruled that the Government was acting unlawfully when it introduced the fee regime, which operated as an unjustified restriction on the right of access to justice. The Supreme Court also found that the regime was indirectly discriminatory towards women; a higher proportion of whom bring discrimination cases and therefore attracted higher fees due to the complex nature of discrimination claims.
Dominic Raab, Justice Minister, stated that the Government will “immediately” stop taking fees for employment tribunal claims and start reimbursing claimants for the fees spent since the regime was introduced in 2013.
We will continue to report on this as the details unfold.
If you would like to speak to Jasmin Dhillon surrounding any of the matters highlighted in the article, or for any other issues related to employment, please contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01494 478671.