Supreme Court considers employment tribunal fees challenge while Law Society accuses government of being “wilfully blind” to tens of thousands denied justice

updated on 29 March 2017

The bitter legal battle over the introduction of employment tribunal fees is set to end soon as the verdict on a Supreme Court hearing is considered.

The trade union, Unison has conducted a four-year legal challenge and appeals process against the government’s decision to introduce high fees which people must now pay as the only way to redress wrongdoing on the part of an employer at an employment tribunal. A two-day hearing in the Supreme Court, which concluded yesterday, was the culmination of Unison’s appeals process. As the Law Gazette reports, the union’s claim was dismissed in the High Court in 2013 and the Court of Appeal in 2015, and now the Supreme Court is considering its verdict.

A cross-party committee of MPs has already called on the government to lower employment tribunal fees on the basis that they are too high for people on low incomes to afford, while the threshold for fees to be waived is also too high. Fees start at around £160 and increase to between £230 and £950 for further hearings. The MPs further identified a trend where women’s claims of discrimination over maternity leave and/or pregnancy are not being taken seriously. Meanwhile, the government itself has admitted that the introduction of fees has discouraged people from bringing claims to employment tribunal. Nonetheless, the government has continued to reject calls for tribunal fees to be lowered.

Stay tuned for the verdict on LCN.