Unlawful tribunal fees will be scrapped

26 Jul 2017

The government acted unlawfully when it introduced fees for employment tribunals, the Supreme Court has ruled.

In another major legal victory won by a union, after our recent success in the High Court, ministers will now scrap the charges and have to pay back tens of millions of pounds.

We opposed the Tory-Lib Dem coalition when it brought in fees of up to £1,200 in 2013, arguing they would restrict access to justice.

Ministers have also cut legal aid, closed courts and tribunal centres, and cut the facility time our representatives can spend resolving workplace issues without the need to rely on legal proceedings.

In today’s ruling on the case brought by Unison, the Supreme Court judges described the fall in claims as “so sharp, so substantial and so sustained” they could not reasonably be afforded by those on low to middle incomes.

They also said fees had deterred genuine cases, adding access to justice is of value to society as a whole because rulings can set important legal principles.

In response, the Ministry of Justice said it “will take immediate steps to stop charging employment tribunal fees and refund those who have paid”.

Our general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This is a major victory for trade unions and the people we represent and the case once again exposes the extent to which the Tories treat workers with contempt.

"We congratulate Unison for pursuing this case all the way to the Supreme Court, and we will be taking immediate legal advice about seeking redress for our members who have been affected over the years."

We are still awaiting a remedy decision from the High Court after it ruled the government had acted unlawfully when making cuts to the redundancy terms of civil servants last year.

We will publish further information on this and the implications of today’s Supreme Court judgement as soon as it is available.

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