Supreme Court decides that employment tribunal fees system is unlawful


Changes to employment tribunal fees

In July 2013 the Government introduced the Employment Tribunals and Employment Appeal Tribunal Fees Order 2013, which required all individuals to pay a fee to bring a claim to tribunal.

The Supreme Court has now ruled that the requirement for claimants to pay a fee to bring an employment tribunal claim is unlawful and that the legislation introduced in July 2013 must be quashed.

Unison argued before the Supreme Court that the introduction of employment tribunal fees in July 2013 was unlawful because:

  • it interfered unjustifiably with the right of access to justice under both UK common law and EU law;
  • it discriminated against woman and other groups with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 as there were significantly higher fees for bringing these claims to tribunal.

The decision of the Supreme Court was based on the conclusion that the introduction of employment tribunal fees prevented a large number of employees being able to access justice as they could not afford the expenses of bringing a claim, this was highlighted by a significant drop in the number of claims.

It was said that the fees were also contrary to the Equality Act 2010 as they disproportionately affected women and other groups with protected characteristics.

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