Employment Law Update: Tribunal Fees

After a flurry of excitement and commentary from numerous sources, the dust is already settling on yesterday’s landmark decision.

The UK’s Supreme Court ruled that workers will no longer have to pay fees levied by the Employment Tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal to issue proceedings against their employers. The Supreme Court said these charges prevented access to justice and breached both EU and UK law.

The Ministry of Justice said the Government will take immediate steps to stop charging employment tribunal fees and refund those who have already paid them. The Government will have to refund in the region of £27m to thousands of people who have gone to tribunal since fees were introduced in July 2013. These fees range from £390 - £1200.

The general consensus is that employers should now prepare for an initial increase in the number of employment tribunal claims they are likely to receive over the coming months. However, the Government may decide to introduce a new scheme that addresses the concerns raised by the Supreme Court. Also claim numbers are unlikely to return to the numbers seen prior to the introduction of fees given the impact of early ACAS conciliation. There are other questions yet to be answered

  • Will employers who have been ordered to pay successful claimants’ fees be able to recover such sums?
  • Will employees who were deterred from bringing claims as a result of the fees be able to argue that they should be able to now bring claims outside of the relevant time limits?

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.