At the end of law week, it was confirmed that the trade union Unison has been given permission to take to the Supreme Court its challenge against the introduction of employment tribunal fees. Employment tribunal fees came into force in July 2013, as part of the then coalition government’s attempt to crack down on what it considered to be a large number of spurious tribunal claims.
Since then, people wishing to bring claims in tribunal have had to pay a fee to lodge their claims, an additional fee for any hearing, and another if they wish to appeal the outcome. Since the introduction of fees, there has been a significant decline in the number of tribunal claims. Several commentators have observed, however, that the size of the drop likely exceeds the number of so-called spurious claims that were claimed to have been in the tribunal system before the fee system was introduced.
Unison has attempted on two previous occasions to have employment tribunal fees ruled unlawful in the High Court. The union has argued that fees have made it “virtually impossible or excessively difficult” for some individuals to exercise their employment rights, and that the fees regime indirectly discriminates against some groups, including women.
Whether the fee system will be changed as a result of their latest application remains to be seen, but in the run up to the last election, most political parties indicted that they would, at the very least, review the fee system. We will, naturally, keep any further developments under review, and keep you informed.