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Update on Employment Tribunal Fees

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You will recall that fees were introduced in the employment tribunal and employment appeal tribunal on 29th July 2013 and that they can be as much as £1,200. Following this change and within 8 months, there had been a 79% drop in claims compared to the previous year.

Unison the Union took steps to challenge the introduction of these fees. They argued that the fees prevented claimants from having access to justice, that the fee regime was indirectly discriminatory and that the Lord Chancellor had failed to satisfy the public sector equality duty.

Unison failed to persuade the Court of Appeal of its arguments. In particular, the Court of Appeal considered that there was a lack of evidence as to the impact of fees on individual claimants. It also noted that it was objectively justifiable to have a two-tier fees system despite more women than men possibly being obliged to pay the higher rate fees (applying to discrimination claims).

Unison has now made an application to appeal to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, a formal review on the impact of tribunal fees is being carried out by the Ministry of Justice which is expected to conclude later this year.

Since the Court of Appeal’s decision, the Scottish Government has announced that it intends to abolish employment tribunal fees. We shall wait to see whether this decision has any influence over the MOJ’s review.

Written by
Edward Aston
10th September 2015