Shock waves are going through the employment world following the Supreme Court’s decision that the introduction of Tribunal fees was unlawful. Tribunal fees were introduced on 29 July 2013 and had the effect of reducing claims by 79%. The Supreme Court was highly critical of the introduction of fees by a minister who, in doing so, reduced the protections granted by Parliament. The Supreme Court stated that employment tribunal cases are important for society as a whole, not just the individuals involved. The Justices were unanimous in their findings that the fees system did impede access to justice.
As a result of the decision, the Lord Chancellor’s department have agreed to refund all claimants who have paid the fees since they were introduced nearly 4 years ago. The unpicking of this monumental disaster for the Government could cost in the region of £32 million to the taxpayer.
Employment Partner at Langleys Solicitors in York, Mini Setty says that the decision of the Supreme Court is a sensible one given the Tribunal statistics that were published by the Government about the impact of Tribunal fees. She said that there was a “real danger that employees with genuine grievances against their employer were being deterred from exercising their legal rights and best employment practices were being replaced with complacency”.
It is not clear if Tribunal fees are gone for good or if they will return in a different guise. Everyone is waiting for the Government’s next move.