Court of Appeal dismisses UNISON’s employment tribunal fees challenge

Fees have been required in Tribunals since July 2013. UNISON initially challenged the introduction of fees by way of judicial review. This was dismissed on the grounds that the application was premature because there was no real evidence as to what impact the fees had on Tribunal claims.

UNISON filed a further set of proceedings once they had evidence as to the significant reduction in Employment Tribunal claims since the introduction to fees. The High Court dismissed it and UNISON appealed.

In August 2015, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. Permission is being sought to issue at the Supreme Court.

The Court of Appeal acknowledged that there had been a drastic reduction in claims (referred to as ‘startling’), and that some of this had to be attributable to people that can’t pay the Tribunal fees.

However, they didn’t feel able to conclude that this made the legislation unlawful. They also didn’t accept that it was discriminatory towards women (as had also been argued).

Although as a result of the reduction in claims, an inquiry into the effect of Tribunal fees is currently underway by the Justice Committee.

In the meantime, the Scottish Government has proposed the abolishing of Tribunal fees for Scotland only in its programme for Scotland for 2015-2016.

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