In a landmark decision this morning Unison has been successful in the Supreme Court, in arguing that Employment Tribunal fees are unlawful and consequently will be quashed.
The Supreme Court held that the fees regime effectively prevented access to justice and that Employment Tribunal cases are important for society as a whole, not just the individuals involved. Also noted was the contrast between the level of fees in the tribunal and the small claims court, where it is much cheaper to bring a claim for a small sum of money.
The immediate consequence is that tribunal and EAT fees cease to be payable under the existing scheme. Fees already paid must presumably be reimbursed by the Government.
There had been a ‘dramatic and persistent fall’ in the number of employment tribunal claims since the Fees Order came into force, representing a reduction in cases of 66–70%, so for Claimant lawyers this is welcome news, and for employers it means that Employment Tribunal claims will now be easier to bring. The net effect of this is that Tribunal claims are likely to increase, in our view, particularly given that there is little risk of costs being awarded in the event that the Claimant loses in the Tribunal.
Employers would be wise to ensure that their houses are in order and that their policies and procedures are watertight and in the best possible position to defend any such claims.
For further advice please email a member of the Travlaw employment team firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com