Following the introduction of Employment Tribunal fees in 2013, tribunals have seen a reduction in
cases brought to them. The introduction of the fees caused a debate as people felt it was limiting access to justice.
This week, the Supreme Court has ruled that the introduction of Employment Tribunal fees back in
2013 was unlawful and has ordered the refund of all Employment Tribunal fees going back to the
date of the introduction of the fees in 2013.
The Government has previously made a voluntary commitment to reimburse all fees if it is found to have acted unlawfully. The estimated fees raised since July 2013 are £32 million. This will mean a small windfall to previous applicants to Tribunals.
The focus of today’s judgment was on the disproportional nature between the fees and the remedy sought. It is likely that the Government will want to consult on a more proportional fees regime.
This development will no doubt mean an increase in the number of cases reaching Employment
Tribunals. We will watch this outcome for possible changes in fees going forward.
Here is the communication to all Tribunal users regarding the judgement:
You will all be aware that on 26 July, the Supreme Court handed down judgment in the case of R (Unison) v Lord Chancellor. Unison’s appeal was a challenge to the lawfulness of Employment Tribunals fees. The Court has found that the fees unlawfully hinder access to justice and the relevant Fees Order – the Employment Tribunals and Employment Appeal Tribunal Fees Order 2013, has been quashed.
The effect of this judgment is that the fees have been found to be unlawful from the time they were introduced.
We have immediately taken steps to stop charging fees for proceedings in the Employment Tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal. For an interim period, the digital service has been withdrawn for essential maintenance work to remove references to fees. During this period, anyone seeking to issue an Employment Tribunal claim will need to complete an ET1 form and submit it by post, or in person to the relevant office. We hope to have an online submission portal up and running early next week.
While these arrangements are in place, it may take us a little longer to process claims and deal with enquiries. We would ask for your patience during this period.
Full details of the refund scheme will be announced in due course.”