R (UNISON) v Lord Chancellor

Since 29 July 2013, fees have been payable by a claimant or appellant bringing a claim in the employment tribunal or an appeal in the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) unless they are entitled to a remission on account of limited means. An initial fee is payable on commencement of the claim or submission of the appeal and a further fee is payable shortly in advance of the final hearing. Prior to 29 July 2013 the employment tribunal service was free to users.

The order imposing fees in the employment tribunal and EAT (the “Fees Order”) has been the subject of challenge by way of judicial review proceedings commenced by the trade union Unison in 2013. Its challenge was dismissed by the High Court and then by the Court of Appeal.

The matter came before the Supreme Court in March 2017, with its judgment now eagerly awaited. Broadly, the Supreme Court has been asked to decide whether the Fees Order breaches the EU principle of effectiveness (which requires that persons who claim their rights under EU law have been breached should have access to an effective remedy for that breach) and whether it is indirectly discriminatory.

For more information on the background to the case before the Supreme Court please see our case preview on the UKSC blog which we co-author with Matrix Chambers.

We will, of course, be providing further updates and commentary when the Supreme Court’s judgment is handed down.