Employment tribunal fees are unlawful and unconstitutional, The Supreme Court ruled on 26 July. The Government must now repay all tribunal fees to claimants who have paid them since they were introduced in 2013.
We understand that fees will stop being charged immediately and looking today the gov.uk website guidance states “You do not have to pay a fee to make a claim to the Employment Tribunal, even if it says so on the form.”
The timetable for reimbursements is yet to be announced but with £32 million to pay back we suspect there may be some time before claimants see their money back.
There has been much commentary on this matter and we were delighted to see our employment lawyer friend Karen Jackson, quoted by the BBC – she said: “I don’t know an employment lawyer who didn’t think it was wrong to have fees. We all felt that morally it was the wrong thing to do as a barrier to justice.”
There has been some discussion about those who were unable to bring what may have been a successful claim in the last four years if they could not afford to pay the fees, but there has been no official comment on this.
For employers who have been minded to do so in recent years, this decision means that they can no longer rely on a degree of confidence that employees would be put off bringing a claim due to the need to pay the (often as much as £1200) fee to have a claim heard in tribunal.