In 2013, the government introduced fees of up to £1,200 for bringing tribunal cases to court, which led in a significant reduction of cases. Unison argued the introduction of this was preventing workers from getting justice. The judges said that fees were set so high, it “has had a deterrent effect upon discrimination claims, among others”, and also put off more genuine cases.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “The government is not above the law. But when ministers introduced fees they were disregarding laws many centuries old, and showing little concern for employees seeking justice following illegal treatment at work. The government has been acting unlawfully, and has been proved wrong – not just on simple economics, but on constitutional law and basic fairness too. It’s a major victory for employees everywhere. UNISON took the case on behalf of anyone who’s ever been wronged at work, or who might be in the future. Unscrupulous employers no longer have the upper hand. These unfair fees have let law-breaking bosses off the hook these past four years, and left badly treated staff with no choice but to put up or shut up. We’ll never know how many people missed out because they couldn’t afford the expense of fees. But at last this tax on justice has been lifted.”
The government’s employment tribunal fees review published in January showed that £27m was collected in fees from 2012-2016. The ministry of justice says it will take immediate steps to stop charging fees in employment tribunals and put in place arrangements to refund those who have paid.