Following the introduction of Employment Tribunal fees in 2013, which saw a sharp decline in the number of employment cases being brough, one of the UK's largest trade union, Unison, has been challenging the introduction of these fees. In a ground breaking decision, the Supreme Court has today ruled that not only were these fees unlawful but they were also discriminatory towards women. It is expected that this ruling will provide welcome news for many employees who simply could not afford to bring a claim and may even mean that the government will have to repay all tribunal fees collected since 2013.
In its Judgment, the Supreme Court highlighted that there was a huge disparity between tribunal fees and those in the small claims court (where it is substantially cheaper to bring a claim). Stating that employment tribunal cases are important for society as a whole, not just the individuals involved, and having fees at the level they were at effectively prevented access to justice.
In addition, Baroness Hale also commented in a separate ruling that Type B claims for discrimination cases were unjustly discriminatory to women.
So where does this leave us?
It is difficult to predict at present but it is likely that the government will have to undertake a huge rethink in the tribunal fee structure, not to mention the system to file claims. It is certainly likely that the government will have to give some serious consideration to repaying the millions of pounds of fees collected since 2013.
The good news is that many employees will now be able to bring a claim without the fear of having to pay Tribunal Fees of up to £1300.00.
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