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Union fails in its challenge to employment tribunal fees

Posted: 7th January 2015   In: Business Employment

The trade union Unison has suffered a major setback in its challenge to the introduction of fees for people wanting to take cases to an employment tribunal.

The High Court rejected its application for a judicial review because of a lack of evidence showing that fees were making it more difficult to bring cases to tribunals.

Mr Justice Foskett said: “Before the court could begin to act it would need to be satisfied that a more than minimal number of people with arguably legitimate claims would find it virtually impossible or excessively difficult to bring such matters before an employment tribunal because of the fees that would require to be paid.”

Unison had sought a judicial review on the grounds that the fees amounted to a prohibitive cost for bringing claims. It also argued that fees discriminated against women, ethnic minorities and the disabled. The union was backed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which claimed the fees were too high and were simply a way of making money.

Unison is now planning to appeal. Its General Secretary, Dave Prentis, said: “The High Court’s decision is disappointing but we will fight on and do everything possible to ensure that these punitive fees introduced by the government are abolished.”

Fees were introduced in July 2013 to help pay for tribunal services and also to discourage employees bringing weak or frivolous cases. Over the following year, the number of cases dropped by about 80%.

Please contact Robert Bedford if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.