The UK Supreme Court has declared application fees for Employment Tribunals and Employment Appeal Tribunals illegal as they are contrary to UK and EU law.
In delivering its judgement on this case, the Court said “The Fees Order is unlawful under both domestic and EU law because it has the effect of preventing access to justice. Since it had that effect as soon as it was made, it was therefore unlawful and must be quashed”.
In July 2013 fees were introduced for Employment Tribunals and Employment Appeal Tribunals. These fees ranged from £390 to £1,200 with additional charges in cases that involved discrimination. At the time, the UK Government said that it needed to introduce fees to reduce the burden on the taxpayer who then funded the tribunal service. It also stated that such fees would outlaw claims that didn’t have any merit and that the introduction of fees was likely to encourage settlements.
What actually happened when fees were introduced was a dramatic reduction in the number of cases raised by individuals against their employers – with costs being cited as the main reason for this. This is a view supported by the UK Supreme court in its judgement.
What this now means is that the Government faces a bill of around £32 million to repay those who paid application fees since July 2013. It also means that from now on, anyone who wants to make an application to an Employment Tribunal or Employment Appeal Tribunal need not face application fees.
You can view Lord Reed delivering a Summary of the court’s judgement by clicking here. The Press Summary provides an outline of the points the court was asked to consider and the reasoning behind its decision. You can view the Press Summary by clicking here. The full text of the Judgement can be viewed by clicking here.