Tribunal fees unlawful – so what next?
On 26 July 2017, the Supreme Court made a ground breaking decision by declaring Employment Tribunal fees to be unlawful. The government in response announced that it will abolish the fees. In a statement following the judgment Justice Minster, Dominic Raab said ‘…we will take immediate steps to stop charging fees in employment tribunals and put in place arrangements to refund those who have paid….’
Employment Tribunal fees were introduced in July 2013 and a typical unfair dismissal claim had fees of £1,200. Following the introduction of fees the number of Employment Tribunal claims dropped drastically. The claim had been brought by Unison who had argued that the fees prevent employees of lower incomes from getting access to justice.
So what happens now?
Are fees still payable if you want to submit an ET1 Claim Form? No. The online application process is currently unavailable while the system is updated. Claims that need to be issued in the meantime will have to be submitted by post.
Refund to those who have paid? The Justice Minster stated that the fees will be refunded to those who have paid. This is likely to be a logistical nightmare and how this will be achieved remains to be seen. Watch this space!
Will new fees be introduced?
The Justice Minister has said that the government will consider the judgment and ‘consider access to justice, the costs of litigation, and how we fund the tribunals’. This is very much a case of wait and see, but it is anticipated that a new fee regime will be consulted upon.
Employers beware! The removal of the Tribunal fees is likely to see an increase in Employment Tribunal claims as employees are no longer deterred by the high fees. It is therefore more important than ever for employers to act fairly and follow the correct procedures when dealing with workplace issues.