Fees to bring Employment Tribunal claims are now a thing of the past! The Supreme Court has ruled that the imposition of fees to bring employment claims is unconstitutional and discriminatory.

In 2013 the Ministry of Justice introduced fees into the employment tribunal, previously a free service. Dismissed employees had to find up to £1200 to have their claim heard. This resulted in a 79% drop in claims and the start of long campaign by UNISON to challenge what they saw as an attack on basic employment rights.

The Supreme Court held that the fees prevent access to justice.

Fees were introduced by the Government to weed out what they saw as malicious and unmeritorious cases. UNISON argued that the fee regime didn’t just weed out weak cases, they stopped genuine cases as well. The Supreme Court agreed. It said that the reduction in claims after the fees were introduced was “so sharp, so substantial and so sustained” that they could not be afforded by workers on low to middle incomes or those seeking a modest or non-monetary remedy.

The ruling means those that have paid fees over the last four years will be able to claim them back from the Government which it has been reported will cost an estimated £32 million. Of more concern to employers is the fact that those individuals who did not lodge claims over the last four years due to being financially unable to do so, may seek to issue claims now arguing that it was not reasonably practicable for them to have done so earlier. Whether Tribunals allow such “out of time” claims remains to be seen.

Now the barrier to issuing proceedings has been removed, it is anticipated that claims will start to rise again. Employers will need to bear this in mind when making business decisions and dust off any files relating to employees who had alluded to bringing a claim over the last 4 years and didn’t. They may come back to haunt you!

For further help or information contact Lupton Fawcett’s director in Employment Law, Brian Harrington, on 01904 561433 or brian.harrington@luptonfawcett.law