27th July 2017

In a striking judgment issued on 26th July 2017, the UK Supreme Court ruled that Employment Tribunal fees introduced in 2013 were unlawful.

Lord Reed provided the leading judgment of the Court of seven judges stating that the legislation introducing the fees “effectively prevents access to justice and is therefore unlawful”. The judgment provides a comprehensive analysis of the role of courts and tribunals in society and examines closely the Government’s rationale for the fees and the effect fees have had on the number of tribunal cases raised. The overriding justification put forward by the Government for fees was the funding of the tribunal system by its users rather than taxpayers more generally. The Supreme Court highlighted that the gap between the expected contribution and the actual contribution to that funding was around 20%. It was also suggested that fees would deter applications to Tribunals in spurious cases. The Government accepted that the statistics on the rate of successful applications show that fees have not had that effect and in fact have deterred perfectly justifiable claims.

The full judgment can be found here (https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2015-0233-judgment.pdf).

Further information can be found on the BBC website at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40727400

UK Supreme Court Scales of Justice