UNISON National

UNISON to continue fight over Employment Tribunal fees in Supreme Court

UNISON has today (Wednesday) vowed to take its battle to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeal rejected its appeal against the government’s introduction of employment tribunal fees.

Describing this case as ‘troubling’, the Court of Appeal expressed a ‘strong suspicion that so large a decline [in claims] is unlikely to be accounted for entirely by cases of ‘won’t pay’ and [that] it must also reflect at least some cases of ‘can’t pay’.

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “Today’s decision is a huge disappointment and a major setback for people at work. Many unscrupulous employers will be rubbing their hands together in glee at the news.

“There is stark evidence that workers are being priced out of justice and it is women, the disabled and the low-paid who are being disproportionately punished.

“Our fight for fairness at work and access to justice for all will continue until these unfair and punitive fees are scrapped.”

Notes to Editors

Employment tribunal fees were introduced on 29 July 2013. UNISON has been fighting to have the fees abolished.

Fees start at around £160 to issue a Type A claim (e.g. unlawful deduction of wages, breach of contract) and £250 for a Type B claim (e.g. unfair dismissal, discrimination claims); with a further hearing fee of £230 for Type A claims and £950 for Type B claims.

Timeline

–        29 July 2013: Introduction of employment tribunal fees for workers wishing to lodge a claim against an employer. Workers must also pay a further fee when the case is heard. Appeals at the Employment Appeal Tribunal also attract a lodging (£400) and hearing fee.

–        29 July 2013: UNISON seeks permission in the High Court to bring Judicial Review proceedings.

–        October/November 2013: UNISON’s first claim is heard in the High Court.

–        December 2013: Following the introduction of fees, Ministry of Justice statistics for July – September 2013 show a 56% drop in ET claims compared to the same period in the previous year.( https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/tribunals-statistics).

–        February 2014: UNISON’s challenge is unsuccessful. The High Court states that the claim brought by UNISON was premature and that new proceedings should be lodged if and when further evidence was available.

–        March 2014: Ministry of Justice figures for October 2013-December 2013 show a 79% drop in claims compared to the same period in the previous year (https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/tribunals-statistics).

–        May 2014: UNISON is granted permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal.

–        June 2014: Ministry of Justice figures for January to March 2014 show a 81% drop in claims compared to the same period in the previous year 9 https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/tribunals-statistics).

–        September 2014: Ministry of Justice figures for April to June 2014 show an 81% drop in claims compared to the same period in the previous year (https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/tribunals-statistics).

–        September 2014: Court of Appeal claim is stayed to allow a second High Court challenge.

–        October 2014: UNISON brings its second judicial review challenge against the Lord Chancellor over ET fees.

–        December 2014: UNISON’s second challenge is unsuccessful despite “the striking and very dramatic reduction in claims”.

–        April 2015: the Court of appeal hears UNISON’s appeals in relation to both High Court claims.

–        26 August 2015: UNISON is unsuccessful at the Court of Appeal and an application for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court has been made.