Unison’s efforts succeeded today when the Supreme Court ruled that the Tribunal fees system was unlawful and also potentially discriminatory.
Since July 2013, employees who wanted to bring claims against their employers in Employment Tribunal have had to pay fees of up to £1,200. Unison, the trade union, have pursued a long-running battle against the Tribunal fees system as they believe it has prevented employees, especially those on lower incomes, from accessing justice. Certainly there has been a marked drop of around 70% in the number of Tribunal claims since the imposition of the fees system.
The ruling means that all Tribunal fees that have been paid since July 2013 will be refunded by the Government and it also opens up an opportunity for employees who were put off from bringing a claim due to the fees, to apply for permission to issue a claim now even if they are out of time under the normal rules of limitation.
It remains to be seen if the Government tries to impose a new fees system in the future. Our view is that they will, but with lower fees and there has also been speculation that they may look to impose a fee payable by employers when they file their response to the claim.