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Employment tribunal fees declared unlawful by the Supreme Court

The highest court in the United Kingdom has today delivered a landmark Judgment that employment tribunal fees are unlawful.

In a spectacular decision, the Supreme Court held that fees of up to £1,200 were hindering workers, particularly those earning a lower wage, from getting the justice they deserve.

The Ministry of Justice has said it would take “immediate steps to stop charging fees in employment tribunals and put in place arrangements to refund those who have paid”.

The decision was made after the Supreme Court deemed that the fees were denying people access to justice, which as a consequence had brought about a decrease in the number of tribunal claims being brought.

Another mitigating rationale behind the Court’s decision is that the current fees were disproportionately affecting women, and thus breaching the Equality Act 2010.

Dave Prentis the General Secretary of Unison, the trade union who brought the action said that: “Today was a major victory for employees” and that “unscrupulous employers no longer have the upper hand”.

Mr Prentis further praised the decision, adding that: “the Government is not above the law, but when ministers introduced fees they were disregarding laws many centuries old, and showing little concern for employees seeking justice following illegal treatment at work.”

Unison estimate that the Government may have to refund as much as £27 million to people who have made a claim to a tribunal since fees were introduced in 2013.

The fees started at £160 for issuing a claim such as for unpaid wages, with a further fee payable if the claim proceeds to a hearing.

More complex claims such as those for unfair dismissal or discrimination attracted issue fees of £250 and hearing fees of £950.

As an employee, understanding the law can be hugely daunting during what is often already a very stressful time. Whatever the position you find yourself in, whether it relates to discrimination, unfair dismissal, workplace disputes or any other employment related issues, our specialist employment law team can help.

To find out more or to discuss your circumstances further, contact us for free on 0800 1979 345 or complete our online enquiry form.