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Tribunal fees to remain (...for now)

Napthens - December 17th 2014

Unison’s judicial review application, challenging the new employment tribunal fees system, has been dismissed by the High Court.

The introduction of fees in 2013 was one of the biggest changes the employment tribunal has ever seen. Under the new rules claimants are now required to pay both an issue and hearing fee when bringing a claim in the employment tribunal.

The application

Unison’s application sought to challenge the legality of this new system on 2 grounds:

  • The fees make it difficult, or even impossible, for some applicants to bring a claim meaning it is unlawful under EU law
  • The fees are indirectly discriminatory

The decision

One of the main reasons the claim was dismissed was for lack of evidence given by Unison. Unison provided their argument based on hypothetical claimants rather than actual individuals. Therefore Unison was unable to prove that a claimant had actually been prevented from bringing a claim due to the new fee system. The court also stated the fees were not discriminatory as a higher fee is necessary for certain claims (eg discrimination) due to the level of service and resources required.

This judgment means that tribunal fees will remain in force.

Unison has been provided with a further right of appeal, so whilst the fees remain in place for the moment it remains to be seen whether another appeal will be pursued.