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Employment tribunal fees scrapped
The Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that the introduction of fees by the government, four years ago was unlawful and unconstitutional.
Fees of up to £1200 were introduced in 2013 with a view to reducing the number of malicious and weak cases leading to a 79% reduction in the number of claims being brought. At the time, it was argued that their introduction would prevent many people from being able to bring genuine claims against their employers. However, the government pressed ahead with its plans and implemented them.
The outcome of the hearing today, brought by Unison against the government, has held that the introduction of fees was indirectly discriminatory against women because a higher proportion of women would bring discrimination claims and these cost more because of the complexity and the time hearings took. It also said that some people would not bring cases to the employment tribunal because paying the fees would render any financial reward pointless.
From today anyone who wants to bring a claim against their employer because they have been treated unfairly or illegally will no longer have to pay following the successful legal challenge by Unison. In addition, the government will have to refund around £32 million to thousands of litigants who have brought claims in the tribunals.
Like many, if not all employment solicitors, I found that the number of claims that were being pursued completely dropped off with many individuals, with a genuine grievance, unable to proceed with tribunal action as it would mean they could not pay their household bills. This left me feeling very frustrated about the lack of justice available to these people and therefore I do hail today as a great victory for workers and that the door to justice has been opened a little for them again.
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