In July 2013 the Coalition Government introduced fees in England, Wales and Scotland which had to be paid by an individual in order to pursue a claim against their employer in an Employment Tribunal. Shortly after the introduction of these fees, Unison issued Judicial Review proceedings in an attempt to have the fee system abolished. This was on the basis that the level of these fees has disproportionately affected access to justice and is likely to adversely affect more women than men, and so, they alleged, the regime is discriminatory.
The High Court rejected the Union’s claims, stating that whilst there was evidence that the number of claims being pursued through the Employment Tribunal system had reduced substantially, without evidence from individuals showing that they personally could not pursue their claim as a result of the fees it could not be said that the fee system was unfair or discriminatory. Unison appealed to the Court of Appeal who on 26th August 2015 upheld the High Court’s decision. Unison has stated that they will be appealing to the Supreme Court, so this is far from the end of this issue, especially in light of the reviews of the regime currently being undertaken by the Government and the Commons Justice Select Committee.
In addition, since the Court of Appeal’s decision, the Scottish Government has announced plans to abolish the Employment Tribunal Fees system in Scotland in 2015/2016, which could lead to differing systems north and south of the border.
As it stands the fee regime will remain in its current form, although it is difficult to predict for how long this will be. We will keep you fully updated with any developments.