From the TUC

Employment Tribunal Fees found to be unlawful

26 Jul 2017, by in Working Life

Following UNISON’s legal challenge, the Supreme Court has, today, ruled that employment tribunal fees are unlawful because they price workers out of accessing justice and discriminate against women.

This means that from today, employment tribunal fees will no longer apply and that all previous fees that have been paid will have to be repaid.

The Supreme Court unanimously upheld each of UNISON’s arguments against employment tribunal fees.  They found that the Fees Order:

  1. Restricted access to justice;
    • As the Supreme Court said, “Fees must be affordable not in a theoretical sense, but in the sense that they can reasonably be afforded. Where households on low to middle incomes can only afford fees by forgoing an acceptable standard of living, the fees cannot be regarded as affordable”.
  2. Limited Parliament’s role in granting employment rights and how they should be enforced;
  3. And, discriminated unlawfully against women
    • As the Supreme Court said, “The Fees Order is indirectly discriminatory under the Equality Act 2010 because the higher fees for type B claims put women at a particular disadvantage because a higher proportion of women bring type B than bring type A claims.”

The victory today is one of the most significant employment law judgments for a generation.  It is a massive step towards ensuring that working people can enforce their employment rights.  It is a clear example of trade unions standing up for all working people.  The Supreme Court judgment smashes down a financial barrier which was pricing workers out of justice.  From today, all working people will be able to enforce their rights without having to worry about whether they can afford the fee.  All claimants who have previously paid a tribunal fee will have to be reimbursed.  Abolishing fees restores access to the tribunals and means that future significant decisions (which might not have been heard) can have wide ranging consequences for all workplaces.

Government statistics have shown that employment claims across the board fell by 67% following the introduction of fees.  However, some groups of workers were affected disproportionately.  Victims of discrimination, workers who had wages unfairly docked, workers who have been unfairly sacked were amongst the groups who really found it unaffordable to bring a claim to employment tribunal.

Today’s decision will also have a positive knock on effect leading to more disputes being resolved in the workplace.  It’s been widely recognised, including in evidence given to the recent government review on tribunal fees, that bad bosses have become emboldened due to workers being less likely to pursue an employment tribunal claim.

Huge congratulations to UNISON for this landmark victory.  Today’s victory is a massive step to improving working peoples’ ability to enforce their employment rights.  And it is a great example of the value of working people standing together in trade unions.

7 Responses to Employment Tribunal Fees found to be unlawful

  1. Eddie Jaggers
    Jul 26th 2017, 5:18 pm

    well done Unison, a true trade union issue fought and won.

  2. Bobbie Carnegie
    Jul 26th 2017, 6:00 pm

    Absolutely ‘Over The Moon’ for this judgement for Justice about a despicable injustice made good by a Union’s determined efforts to see justice prevail. Well Done! and many thanks to Unison. Just goes to show the value, the need, the evidence if evidence was required that each and every person in HM’s United Kingdom young or older should be steadfast Union members. Sign me up right now please!

  3. Lynn Whyte-Heath
    Jul 26th 2017, 8:32 pm

    Will this judgement affect those who have had to use no win no fee solicitors?

  4. Lynn Whyte-Heath
    Jul 26th 2017, 8:33 pm

    Well done to all those involved.

  5. Dr. Obi Marizu
    Jul 27th 2017, 9:58 pm

    Congratulation for the land mark victory. This is also victory for all workers in the country. NUT should borrow a leave from UNISON and defend its members’ rights
    Keep up Unison.

  6. J St John
    Jul 31st 2017, 5:53 pm

    Indeed this is a huge win. Well done and congratulations to Unison/others involved in this fight to restore workers right/power and for not given up. “A Daniel has come to judgment”. Going to Employment Tribunal for justice is indeed workers power which has been denied for long. Yes Justice must prevail.

  7. Bindi thiara
    Aug 1st 2017, 10:21 pm

    Who thought about employment tribunal fees?

    When you have a HAPPY WORKPLACE, workers have Goodwill and will go extra, bad work practices , bad bosses just encourage a vicious circle.So the majority of people who are consistently employed spend more money or have money to save and spend.Bad workplaces just undermine people.Where is commonsense?