CHALLENGE TO EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL FEES REJECTED
LUKE HUTCHINGS >
PartnerWed 5 March 2014
Today the High Court rejected a legal challenge by UNISON to the government's introduction of tribunal fees which came into force as of July 2013.
Since the introduction of fees it now costs 250 pounds to start an ordinary claim for unfair dismissal and a further 950 pounds if the matter proceeds to a hearing (although discounts and exemptions are available in certain cases).
A number of challenges were mounted, including arguments that the imposition of fees made it excessively difficult for claimants to pursue legitimate claims and that the fees disproportionately affected women (who on average earn less than men).
All of the challenges were rejected but there are perhaps one or two positive points for prospective claimants to take away from the judgment.
Firstly, the door has not been shut entirely on the challenge and should it turn out that the new fees are having a detrimental effect on claimants access to justice there may well be scope for a further challenge.
Secondly, and of more practical importance, the High Court commented on the tribunals new powers to order respondents to reimburse successful claimant's in respect of their tribunal fees.
Traditionally it is extremely rare for losing parties to be ordered to pay the winning party's costs and it remains to be seen how often the tribunal will exercise its discretion to order reimbursement of tribunal fees.
However, the High Court has observed that such orders are expected to be the norm and that should prove very persuasive.
If you have a query about tribunal fees, tribunal claims, or any other employment matter please contact one of our expert employment lawyers. For more information please call James Baird on 01733 333333
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