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Partner and Head of Family Law, Rugby
As you have probably already heard the Supreme Court has decided that the current Employment Tribunal fees are in fact unlawful.
Unison brought proceedings to challenge the legality of Employment Tribunal fees (the fees that an employee has to pay when they want to bring a claim against their employer). The introduction of fees in 2013 led to a 70% reduction in the number of Employment Tribunal claims brought and were controversial as they, as some argued, were prohibiting access to justice.
The Supreme Court has ruled that these fees are unlawful, and rather amusingly that the higher fee for the more complex cases (such as discrimination) were in fact indirectly discriminatory.
It is unlikely the fees regime will be abolished entirely. It is likely that the Government will issue a consultation paper and then bring in a new fees regime, possibly with fees at a lower level and/or involving a fee also payable by the employer. However, right now, the Employment Tribunal’s rules of procedure will need to be amended.
What does this mean for you?
If you have paid a Tribunal fee since 2013, then this will be refunded to you. This equates to around £27 million of fees. However, please note, this refers ONLY to the fees that you have paid an Employment Tribunal, not legal fees that you have paid to a solicitor in providing you with advice about your claim or potential claim.
It is not known yet how this refund will be processed but we expect more information on this soon.
Steps have been taken to immediately stop fees from being charged for issuing Employment claims. The online filing system has been suspended so all references to fees can be removed. Anyone seeking to bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal will have to do so by submitting a ET1 by post or in person. The online system is due to be back up and running later this week.
Many are questioning what this means for those who wanted to bring a claim but were unable to due to the financial burden of the Tribunal fee. It is not clear at this stage how the Government will deal with this issue. It could potentially see a number of employees seeking to bring claims outside the normal time limits for claims which occurred up to four years ago.
Watch this space to find out what happens next…
For more information on this or any employment query please our Employment Team.
You can read more information in our blog, 'What does the Employment Tribunal Fee ruling mean?'