Employment Tribunal Fees to be Challenged by Unison and Scottish Law Firm

Employment Tribunal Fees to be Challenged by Unison and Scottish Law Firm

The HM Courts & Tribunal Service have already announced that Tribunal fees will be implemented into the Employment Tribunals and Employment Appeal Tribunal on Monday 29th July 2013. This means that a Claimant will be required to pay an issue fee to commence their claim and a hearing fee if the claim proceeds to a full tribunal hearing. The level of fee will be determined based on the nature of the claim. Issue fees start at £160 for basic claims such as unlawful deductions from wage and in such cases the hearing fee is £250. For more complex cases such as unfair dismissal the issue fee is £250 with a hearing fee of £950.
Fox and Partners based in Edinburgh have now lodged a petition for judicial review challenging the introduction of tribunal fees in the Employment Tribunal System and the EAT in Scotland.
On 1 June 2013 UNISON wrote to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) warning them that if the MOJ did not revoke the legislation surrounding tribunal fees UNISON would issue court proceedings and instigate Judicial Review. UNISON raised concerns that the Tribunal Fees will prevent access to justice and prevent Claimants from exercising their rights conferred by EU Law. Dave Prentis General Secretary of UNISON stated “It is wrong for access to the law and employment justice to be based on what you can or cannot afford…these charges are a blatant attempt to stop working people from exercising their employment rights”
UNISON have also raised the issue that the Public Sector Equality Duty failed to carry out a proper assessment on the potential negative effect of Tribunal fees. The TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber commented that"It is vital that working people have fair access to justice but introducing fees for tribunals will deter many…particularly those on low wages”
It is unclear how successful UNISON and Fox and Partners will be in their journey for securing judicial review. The Government has already confirmed that Employment Tribunals cost more than £84m a year this raises the question whether Employment Tribunal Fees are needed to control and reduce the number of claims issued. Tim Thomas of the EEF manufacturers’ organisation has previously stated"Fees are one way to encourage more responsible behaviour by tribunal users”.
Based on the information disclosed about both applications I think it is unlikely the applications will be successful. I believe this is an example of a union taking action as it feels it should to protect its members all the time knowing they have very little chance of success. Personally I would suggest it is more of a PR exercise by UNISON rather than a legitimately made legal application which they believe they have a chance of winning but time will tell. Michael Lewin Solicitors will update you as soon as a decision has been made in respect of the applications for Judicial Review.
Written by Jennifer Fagin
If you feel you have been unfairly dismissed or believe you may have another head of claim against your employer then please contact our team of specialist employment lawyers who will be able to assist you. Given the above and the fact that fees are due to be introduced from the 29th July we suggest you do not delay and give our team a call today.

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