The Supreme Court has today confirmed that the Tribunal Fees Order which provides that claimants have to pay fees to bring claims in the Employment Tribunal is unlawful and prevents access to justice.
Prior to the introduction of the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal Fees Order, a claimant could bring and pursue proceedings in an Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal without paying any fee.
Since the introduction of fees on 29 July 2013, there has been a significant fall in the number of claims brought in the Employment Tribunal in the region of 66-70%. The Review of the Introduction of Fees in the Employment Tribunal: Consultation on Proposals for Reform concluded:
‘The actual fall since fees were introduced has been much greater and we have concluded that it is clear that there has been a sharp, substantial and sustained fall in the volume of case receipts as a result of the introduction of fees.’
The important consequence of this Judgment is that the Order is quashed immediately. Therefore, as of today (26 July 2017), fees cease to be payable for claimants bringing claims in the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal. Furthermore, fees paid by claimants in the past will be reimbursed.
The introduction of fees resulted in the dramatic decline in the number of tribunal claims that were submitted which was good news for employers and meant that they did not have to deal with spurious and misconceived claims.
Whilst this decision is helpful for claimants, it is not so for employers who may well see an increase in the number of tribunal claims being brought by claimants.