Employment Tribunal fees – a triumph for the little man

The Supreme Court has ruled against the government that Employment Tribunal fees are unlawful in a landmark case brought by Unison.

The fees of up to £1,200 were introduced in July 2013, following which there was an immediate and dramatic fall in the number of claims brought of up to 70%.

Although the fees were introduced to discourage vexatious or trivial claims, there was no change in the overall success rate of Tribunal cases, suggesting that fees were not deterring weaker cases.

The Supreme Court decided this week that the fees were preventing access to justice for employees, and also held that it was indirectly discriminatory to charge higher fees for discrimination claims, where such claims were more often than not brought by women.

The government has said that it is committed to refunding all fees, about £32m in total. The Tribunals are no longer taking fee payments from people when new claims are presented in person and the online claim form is being updated as soon as possible.

If you require help with an employment law matter please contact Nigel Newbery or Eleanor Bulmer at Stokes Partners for friendly and confidential advice.

Brendan Pang