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The Recent Supreme Court Ruling on Employment Tribunal Fees

The Supreme Court has upheld a trade union’s challenge to employment tribunal fees, whereby the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the government had acted unlawfully when it began introducing Employment Tribunal fees back in 2013. The justification for the ruling in R (on the application of UNISON) -v- Lord Chancellor [2017] UKSC 51, is that out that constitutionally, people have a right of access to the judicial system as this is inherent within the rule of law. This could potentially have far-reaching effects in other areas of law besides employment law.

Prior to 2013, access to the tribunal system was free of charge. However, by introducing the tribunal fee system, the judiciary saw a 70% decline in the number of claims being brought. This was even more prominent where claims held little value and were discrimination claims.

As a result of this ruling, the government estimates that it will need to repay between £27 million and £31 million to claimants.

In addition, it also means that employers should expect an initial rise in the quantity of claims being made to the employment tribunal as there is no fees blocking a claimant’s access to justice. As a result, employers should be more careful to ensure that they comply with the law and ensure they take legal advice before making any controversial (however small) moves which could potentially result in a claim.

At Foskett Marr Gadsby & Head LLP, we have the expertise and the experience to guide you through the everchanging commercial and legal scenery. Should you wish to speak further about this with someone, then please either contact either Robin Cearns (Loughton office) or Richard Gordon (Epping office) on 01992 578642.