The Supreme Court has ruled that the Employment Tribunal fee regime, introduced by the coalition government in July 2013, is unlawful.
The fee regime required an initial issue fee of up to £250 and a hearing fee of up to £950.
In summing up, the Supreme Court Judges stated that the current regime was “inconsistent with access to justice”, which has been highlighted by many recent studies and reports. For example, a report found there had been a 70% drop in the number of claims since 2013 and that there have been huge reductions in discrimination cases on the grounds of sex (71%), race (58%) and disability (54%).
The Supreme Court Judges also held that the fee regime is discriminatory and contrary to the Equality Act 2010 as it disproportionately affects women.
The Judgment held that that the level and structure of the current regime is unlawful. Therefore, it is not clear if we will see an amended fee regime or the complete scrapping of Employment Tribunal fees. Either way, we may see a rise in Tribunal claims going forward.
Since the Judgment given yesterday, the government website has been updated and currently states that “you do not have to pay a fee to make a claim to the Employment Tribunal, even if it says so on the form”.
It is currently unclear how the government will deal with reimbursing those who paid Tribunal fees since July 2013. There are estimates that it will cost the government in the region of £27million.