“The decision of the Supreme Court to strike down the tribunal fees regime has sent a shockwave through the employment law establishment establishment”
A Supreme Court ruling has abolished the government’s right to impose fees for employment tribunals. The ruling marks the end of a three and a half year legal battle by Unison to do away with tribunal fees and enable any employee to bring a tribunal claim, regardless of their financial position. Tribunal fees were introduced in July 2013, meaning anyone who wanted to bring their employer to tribunal would have to pay costs of up to £1,200, which Unison said meant some companies were able to escape punishment because people didn’t have the money to pursue a claim. The government launched a consultation to review tribunal fees earlier this year, looking at whether or not the additional cost had deterred people with genuine claims. The Ministry of Justice is currently considering the feedback from the consultation.
EnriqueGarcia is an employment lawconsultant with the ELAS Group. He says: “The decision of the Supreme Court to strike down the tribunal fees regime has sent a shockwave through the employment law establishment. Tribunal fees were immediately scrapped as soon as the decision was handed down; as the fees were made under secondary legislation, the Supreme Court judgement quashed them immediately. Tribunals are accepting claims forms without fees when the forms are filed in person; I expect that the re-coding of electronic submission forms will shortly follow. “The Government may reintroduce fees at some point in the future but, if this was to happen, they would need to do it in a way that does not restrict access to justice e.g. lower fees and/or sliding scales dependent on the value or complexity of a case etc. The Government could also introduce primary legislation so that the courts would not be able to quash them however this is highly unlikely given the scathing comments given in the judgment regarding access to justice. They are also unlikely to rely on the DUP to
“Strategic approaches will have to change e.g. taking certain approaches relying on tribunal fees as a deterrent to an employee bringing claims – this is now more risky. We would always recommend that employers are careful to treat employees lawfully in order to avoid claims in the first place.”
force this one through Parliament as the DUP are from Northern Ireland, which has no fees for tribunal claims. The Government is also likely to be a bit pre-occupied with other matters to consider primary legislation “I would expect to see a 4-5 fold increase in claims following this ruling. Prior to the introduction of fees in 2013, there were around 5,000 tribunal claims being lodged each month. After the introduction of fees, this fell to around 1,500 claims a month. We can safely expect this to go back up again so employers should be prepared.
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