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Government scraps ‘unlawful’ employment tribunal fees

The government has announced that it is scrapping employment tribunal fees following the Supreme Court ruling that they’re unlawful.

Claimants who have paid fees while bringing a case will be given a refund.

The fees were introduced in 2013, with employees having to pay up to £1,200 to bring a claim.  The move was widely criticised for restricting access to justice.  The number of claims brought to tribunals fell by more than 70%.

Following a challenge by the union Unison, the Supreme Court has ruled that the fees are discriminatory, unlawful and unconstitutional.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “People’s employment rights are only as good as their ability to enforce them.  Employment tribunal fees have prevented people from getting justice when they’ve been treated unfairly at work.”

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: "The government has been acting unlawfully, and has been proved wrong - not just on simple economics, but on constitutional law and basic fairness too.

"These unfair fees have let law-breaking bosses off the hook these past four years, and left badly treated staff with no choice but to put up or shut up.”

The Law Society also welcomed the ruling calling it a “victory for the tens of thousands of people denied their rights at work”.

Society president Joe Egan said: ‘As the Supreme Court identified, these fees placed an insurmountable barrier in the way of tens of thousands of people.  Access to justice is a fundamental right – if you can’t enforce your rights then it renders them meaningless.’

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.