After a four year legal battle we can finally say goodbye and good riddance to Employment Tribunal fees, and welcome back to fair and improved access to justice.
On 29 July 2013 the government introduced controversial Employment Tribunal fees which saw Claimants paying up to £1200 in order to bring a claim to enforce their employment rights. Unison challenged the fee structure, arguing that it prevented access to justice. Following what has been a long and hard fought battle, yesterday the Supreme Court confirmed that Employment Tribunal fees had an adverse impact on access to justice and were unlawful.
This long awaited judgment means that Claimants will once again (for now at least!) be able to bring an Employment Tribunal claim without paying any Tribunal fees. This will hopefully see a reversal of the reduction by 70% of Employment Tribunal claims, as people can again afford to enforce their employment rights.
It has also been confirmed that any fees paid since 29 July 2013 will have to be refunded, although how this will work in practice is still to be confirmed.
Whilst this is an extremely positive step for future Claimants – after all what value does a right have if you cannot afford to enforce it – the reality is that many people have been deterred from bringing claims during the period 29 July 2013 – 26 July 2017 because of the prohibitive fee structure. It remains to be seen what recourse will be given to such people.
There has also been suggestion that whilst fees have been abolished for now that this is not the last we will see of them, and that fees may be re-introduced in the future, but at a more proportionate level. Again, we await further developments on this, and we will continue to provide updates on these developments as they arise.
Here at Beecham Peacock we advise on a range of employment law issues and are experienced in employment tribunal advocacy. If you have any questions about your employment rights or Tribunal fees (including obtaining a refund of your fees) then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0191 232 3048 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.