Employment Tribunal fees ruled unlawful: what will happen next?

17 August


The Supreme Court’s decision that it is unlawful to charge Claimants for using the Employment Tribunals system has important consequences for employers and employees.


Since the ruling on 26 July 2017, employees are now able to bring claims to the Tribunal without having to pay fees of up to £1200.


The Supreme Court ruled that requiring Claimants to pay fees in order to bring claims against their employers infringes the right of access to justice and is therefore unlawful. It has been four years since the fees were introduced back in July 2013.


Not only are new Claimants no longer required to pay the fees, but the Ministry of Justice has also begun setting up a procedure for Claimants who paid the fees in the last four years (or Respondents who lost their cases and had to repay the fees to a former employee as a result) to receive refunds.


It is possible that a new fee system will be set up in the future with smaller fees payable; however, for the time being, it is once again free for employees to bring claims in the Tribunal.


It is expected that the new ruling may lead to a significant increase in the number of claims being brought, as the number of Employment Tribunal claims is thought to have dropped by 79% since the introduction of fees in 2013.


Employers who are concerned about the implications of this may wish to consider obtaining legal expenses insurance to protect them against the costs of defending claims from both former employees (for example, in unfair dismissal cases) and current employees (in cases such as holiday pay disputes or equal pay claims).


It is also best practice that employers ensure that their employment contracts, policies and procedures are watertight and up to date to avoid any unnecessary Tribunal claims.


If you would like more information on this or a related topic, please contact the Employment and HR team.


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