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Employment Tribunal Fees abolished


On Wednesday 26th July 2017 the Supreme Court ruled that Employment Tribunal fees, introduced almost 4 years’ earlier, were unlawful. As a result, with effect from that date, Claimants in the Employment Tribunal are no longer required to pay a fee in order to pursue a claim, and all fees paid since 2013 will have to be refunded.

The case in question is known as R v Lord Chancellor [2017] UKSC 51, and it was brought by Unison.  Under the fee system Claimants were required to pay up to £1,200 in order to pursue their claim to a final hearing. In the years since fees were introduced, the number of claims brought in the Employment Tribunal dropped by around 79% and studies showed that potential Claimants were deterred from pursuing claims because of the requirement to pay Tribunal fees.


The Supreme Court found that the fee regime unjustifiably interfered with the right of access to justice and, in addition, that it indirectly discriminated against women on the basis that a higher proportion of women bring those claims attracting the highest fees.


Clare McShane, Partner and Head of the Firm’s Litigation Department says: “It is not yet clear how refunds will be processed. It may not be straightforward, in particular in cases where employers have already repaid fees to employees who were successful in their claims.


It is of course anticipated that there will be an increase in Employment Tribunal claims as a result of the Supreme Court decision, however there may also be an increase in settlements at ACAS Early Conciliation Stage as employers no longer hold out to see whether the employee will pay out the fee to pursue their claim to Tribunal and instead make better settlement offers earlier in proceedings.”


In addition to the increase in ordinary Tribunal claims, it is also anticipated that Claimants who were deterred from pursuing claims due to the fee system may now attempt to pursue claims out of time.


For advice on employment matters, contact Clare McShane on 01623 626141 or