Supreme-Court-considers-Unison’s-employment-tribunal-fees-challenge Supreme Court considers Unison’s employment tribunal fees challenge | Legal Protection Group


Supreme Court considers Unison’s employment tribunal fees challenge

by Sheena Court | Mon 26, Jun 2017 | News

The long-running legal challenge to the introduction of employment tribunal fees is nearing its conclusion following a hearing at the Supreme Court.

Tribunal fees were first introduced in 2013 and since July of that year anyone who has been treated unlawfully or unfairly by their employer, and who wants to challenge them at an employment tribunal, has had to pay a fee, which ranges from £390 to as much as £1,200.

Back in January this year, the government produced a review of the impact of fees showing that there had been a 70% drop in the number of cases since July 2013.  It indicated that low-paid women, especially those treated unfairly when they were pregnant or on maternity leave, have been the biggest losers.

UNISON’s case to the Supreme Court will assert that the government’s decision to demand a fee from anyone taking their employer to court has stopped many thousands of badly treated employees – especially those on low incomes – from getting justice.   If the case goes in favour of the government it will mark the end of the appeal process for the union, which has been engaged in a four year legal battle. Unison’s case was first heard in the High Court in 2013 and the Court of Appeal in April 2015. However, its claims were dismissed both times.

Unison was represented by Dinah Rose QC of Blackstone Chambers instructed by Unison’s in-house legal officer, solicitor Shantha David. The Lord Chancellor was represented by David Barr QC, of Temple Garden Chambers. Summing up, Rose said ‘it is unlawful for the lord chancellor, by delegated legislation, to introduce a fee scheme that makes enforcement of UK employment law rights uneconomical’. In earlier arguments she said the fees scheme had ‘clearly had a very serious impact on rights of access to justice, shutting out large numbers of the small claims that the tribunal was set up to hear.’   Barr said it was ‘entirely justifiable’ to charge different fees for different levels of service. He added that all alternative systems would be worse than the current ‘two tiered system’.

Judgment is expected within six months.



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