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21 August 2017

Removal and reimbursement of employment tribunal fees

On 26 July 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that employment tribunal fees were unlawful and had acted as a barrier to access to justice.

Dominic Raab, justice minister, immediately announced that the Government accepted the Court’s decision and would stop taking fees immediately. Indeed he went even further, stating that all fees paid since 29 July 2013 would be reimbursed, although it is not yet clear how reimbursement on such a large scale will work. In addition, there is a logistical issue surrounding those cases where the claimant’s tribunal fees were paid by the respondent.

Nevertheless, this is a momentous decision and one which will continue to impact employees and employers alike for some time. The ramifications will not be known immediately but it is highly likely that there will be an increase in the number of tribunal claims brought. It may also increase the number of cases settled by employers through ACAS, due to the fact that there is no longer a financial barrier for the employee to issue a claim and the employer will then incur additional costs themselves.

The most important point for employers is that they should be aware – especially when taking management decisions which affect their employees – that there is now a far greater likelihood that those individuals who are dissatisfied with the decision will bring tribunal proceedings.

If you would like further information on the Supreme Court’s decision, or if you wish to take advice on how it may affect your business, please contact Robert Hickford.

To read the Supreme Court judgment on tribunal fees, follow the link below:

https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2015-0233-judgment.pdf

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