18 December 2014
The High Court ruled to turn down Unison’s second judicial review request over the government’s decision to introduce employment tribunal fees. However the union has been granted permission to appeal.
Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary 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.
“Today’s ruling is a real missed opportunity to ensure that all workers can afford to bring an employment tribunal claim. Since the introduction of fees last year, thousands of workers have been priced out of justice and we must not let this continue to happen.”
The Court of Appeal has already agreed to hear Unison’s appeal of the earlier High Court decision over tribunal fees. The hearing was postponed due to the release of new evidence showing a dramatic drop in tribunal claims, which resulted in the second Judicial Review hearing. The evidence showed a 80% drop in claims compared to the same quarter in 2013, with 91% drop in sex discrimination claims. Unison says it will seek to join these appeals and seek an expedited hearing.
Employment Tribunal (ET) fees currently stand at £160 to £250 to issue a claim, with a further hearing costing £230 to £950. ET fees deny mistreated workers access to justice, and constitute an extremely regressive step for employment rights.
Unison is arguing that the introduction of Employment Tribunal fees, introduced in July 2013, was in breach of 2 principles. It was argued that firstly, ET feels are unlawful under the EU principle of effectiveness, as it is exceptionally difficult to bring a claim, and the enforcement of Convention rights, must be practical rather than theoretical or illusory. Secondly, it was argued that the scheme is indirectly discriminatory.
An analysis of Acas’ Early Conciliation scheme, including the impact of ET fees, by Nicole Busby is available to read here.