Breaking news: Tribunal fees deemed illegal

In July 2013, the government introduced fees for Employees who wished to pursue a claim at Employment Tribunal which was generally welcomed by employers.

This meant that individuals were required to pay an initial cost of either £160 or £250 for submitting the claim dependent on the type, and a further fee of either £230 or £950 for it to be heard at tribunal.

The purpose was to:

• Minimise the burden on the tax payer.
• To deter unmeritorious claims.
• Encourage early settlement.

The introduction of fees resulted in a 70% reduction in cases being taken to employment tribunals.

On 26 July 2017 following a challenge by Unison, the Supreme Court ruled that the fees introduced in 2013 were in fact unlawful, and contravened the right of access to justice under both the common law and EU law.

Furthermore the court ruled that The Fees Order is indirectly discriminatory under the Equality Act 2010 because the higher fees for type B claims put women at a particular disadvantage. This is because they tend to submit a higher proportion of type ‘B’ claims (£1200), as opposed to type ‘A’ claims which amount to £390.

This will result in approximately £27 million being refunded to those charged for pursuing a claim.

No indication has been provided regarding the type of scheme the Government will choose to replace this, or if in fact they will decide to revert to the pre-July 2013 position in relation to Tribunal fees. Tamar HR will of course be monitoring subsequent developments closely and will keep you updated with any further news.

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