BIG NEWS - Tribunal fees ruled to be unlawful

Added On: 26th July 2017

BIG NEWS - Tribunal fees ruled to be unlawful

Fees were introduced by the Government in 2013 with the stated aim of reducing malicious cases or those with no prospect of success. The effect was a 79% reduction in cases being brought over the last 3 years.

The Supreme Court has concluded 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. They also concluded ‘genuine’ claims had also been affected, and the provisions amounted to indirect discrimination against women. Consequently, they could not be justified.

The Court was not convinced that the introduction of fees had had the effect of encouraging settlement via ACAS, and instead it had deterred early settlement as employers were waiting to see if the Claimant actually issued proceedings.

The ruling means that those that have paid fees will be able to claim them back from the Government – one estimate says this will cost around £32 million. It also means that Claimants will no longer have to pay fees to bring claims. However, it is anticipated that rather than the fees regime being completely abolished, an alternative fees regime may be brought in with lower fees and the possibility of employer’s having to pay a fee when they lodge their ET3, defending the claim.

Those individuals who did not lodge claims, over the last 4 years, due to the fee may seek to issue claims now, arguing that time should be extended to allow the claim as it was not reasonably practicable for them to have done so earlier, in view of the fees regime. Whether Tribunals will allow such claims remains to be seen.

Now that the financial barrier to submitting ET claims has gone, it is expected that claims will start to rise again.