News | Legal News

26 July 2017

Supreme Court rules against employment tribunal fees

Employment tribunal fees will no longer be chargeable and anyone who has paid them could be refunded, in a landmark Supreme Court ruling.

The Government has accepted the judgment that comes after a controversial four-year battle against trade union body Unison.

Thousands of people have been forced to pay fees of up to £1,200 for taking their cases to a tribunal since July 2013, when fees were introduced by Chris Grayling, the then Lord Chancellor.

Justice Minister Dominic Raab said: "In setting employment tribunal fees, the Government has to consider access to justice, the costs of litigation, and how we fund the tribunals.

"The Supreme Court recognised the important role fees can play, but ruled that we have not struck the right balance in this case. We will take immediate steps to stop charging fees in employment tribunals and put in place arrangements to refund those who have paid."

Unison say the refund total could be more than £27 million.

Responding to the ruling, Unison's general secretary, Dave Prentis, says the judgment is "a major victory for employees everywhere".

He added: "The Government has been acting unlawfully, and has been proved wrong - not just on simple economics, but on constitutional law and basic fairness too.

"These unfair fees have let law-breaking bosses off the hook these past four years, and left badly treated staff with no choice but to put up or shut up."

A 2017 impact review showed there has been a 70% drop in the number of cases since they were introduced.

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