The fees paid by claimants in order to use tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal continue to be a hotly contested political and judicial issue, and further developments have been announced.

This week, the Scottish Government said that it will abolish tribunal fees in Scotland.  For more information, please see the Programme for Scotland. The relevant announcement is at page 38: "We will abolish fees for employment tribunals, when we are clear on how the transfer of powers and responsibilities will work." Under clause 25 of the Scotland Bill, power will be devolved to the Scottish Parliament in relation to the administration and management of employment tribunals.

In a separate, but related, development, Unison's latest challenge to the legality of employment tribunal fees was dismissed by the Court of Appeal last week. In R (Unison) v The Lord Chancellor [2015] EWCA Civ 935, Unison unsuccessfully argued that:

  • fees prevented claimants' access to justice,
  • the regime was indirectly discriminatory; and
  • the Lord Chancellor had failed to satisfy the public sector equality duty.

However, the Court of Appeal rejected these arguments, saying that there was a lack of evidence that the imposition of a fee had deterred specific claimants from making use of the employment tribunal system. The Court of Appeal also said that any indirect discrimination was justified because of cost.

Although the Court of Appeal rejected Unison's appeal, it did note that the sharp decline in claims since the introduction of fees was "startling". The Court noted in its decision that the government has committed to a review of fees, and that the level of fees, or the criteria for fee remission, should be revised if it is found that fees are having a significant impact on claimants realistically being able to bring their claims.

The Government's review of employment tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal fees was announced in June 2015 and is expected to publish at the end of this year.  This will be followed by a consultation on the proposed recommendations to reform the fees and remission scheme and to streamline the procedures involved.

Our use of cookies

We use necessary cookies to make our site work. We'd also like to set optional analytics cookies to help us improve it. We won't set optional cookies unless you enable them. Using this tool will set a cookie on your device to remember your preferences. For more detailed information about the cookies we use, see our Cookies page.

Necessary cookies

Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

Analytics cookies

We'd like to set Google Analytics cookies to help us to improve our website by collection and reporting information on how you use it. The cookies collect information in a way that does not directly identify anyone.
For more information on how these cookies work, please see our Cookies page.