In July 2013, the Government introduced fees for claimants in the employment tribunals. Fees start from around £160 to issue a claim, with a further fee for a hearing starting at £230. The fee rises depending on the type of claim.
Late in 2013, the trade union Unison lodged a legal challenge to the Government’s decision for the introduction of fees. Unison argued that the requirement to pay fees denied access to justice for workers being treated unfairly by employers. It also argued that requiring higher fees for certain claims had a disproportionate impact on women, disabled people and ethnic minorities.
In February 2014, the High Court dismissed Unison’s challenge on the basis that there was little robust evidence to persuade the court that it should overturn the fees regime. Following the decision, Unison appealed to the Court of Appeal. However in September 2014, Unison lodged a new judicial review over the introduction of tribunal fees.
The new judicial review comes in light of new evidence showing a dramatic drop in tribunal claims. Prior to the introduction of fees in July 2013, the employment tribunals received, on average, 48,000 new claims per quarter. Figures for April to June 2014 show that there were only 8,540 new claims in this quarter, 81% fewer than the number of claims lodged in the same period in 2013.
In light of these statistics from the Ministry of Justice, the Lord Chancellor (Chris Grayling) agreed that a new hearing should take place as soon as possible. Unison has confirmed that its new judicial review will be heard by the High Court on 21st and 22nd October 2014.
Watch this space!