On 26 July 2017, The Supreme Court handed
down Judgment in the case of R (on the application of UNISON) v Lord
Chancellor  UKSC 51. This case, more commonly known as ‘the appeal against Employment
Tribunal Fees’ has fundamentally changed the face of Employment Law by ruling that Employment
Tribunal Fees are unlawful.
It was back in 2007 that the introduction of Employment Tribunal Fees in the UK was agreed on, when the government created legislation which permitted charges to be levied. It was on the 29th July 2013 that the charging of fees commenced. The majority of claims carried a fee of £1,200, although some types saw this reduced to £390. Fees were higher still if one were to try and challenge an Employment Tribunal decision, as the fee for the appellant was £1,600.
Abolishment of the aforementioned fees has been met with delight by huge swathes of the legal community. For many, the Judgment can be seen as harking back to the principles of fairness which founded the Tribunals in the first place. This sentiment of fairness was encapsulated by Lord Reed who said ‘Employment Tribunals are intended to provide a forum for the enforcement of employment rights by employees and workers, including the low paid, those who have recently lost their jobs and those who are vulnerable to long term unemployment. Though they often deal with issues of modest value, they are nonetheless of social importance’.
While allowing greater access to justice is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, the Judgment does not completely eradicate the seemingly perpetual issue of fees. Clearly blanket fees are out of the question, but if the government does not wish for the 70% reduction in Employment Tribunal claims to be reversed, they will have to impose a new deterrent. This, coupled with the inevitable rise in claims means that more judges will have to be recruited (and paid), as well as more Tribunal rooms rented out. With this in mind, there would appear to be an air of inevitability about the advent of a second phase fee scheme.
Frustratingly, both the legal community and general public must now await the government’s response, at a time when Parliamentary capacity is at its lowest in years.
However, you don’t have wait to receive specialist Employment Law advice for any issue you may be experiencing in the workplace right now. At Giles Wilson Solicitors, our resident employment expert Roy Daby is experienced in understanding the nature of your case, your perspective and the result you want.
Roy has represented a number of clients at Tribunals, so should your case proceed to this stage, you can be confident your view is being fought for by a solicitor you trust. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any queries by phone on 01702 477106 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org.