Date Fixed For Tribunal Fees Challenge

Following the introduction of Employment Tribunal (ET) fees in July 2013, the UK's largest public service trade union, Unison, supported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, brought judicial review proceedings challenging the lawfulness of the new regime. The case was brought on the basis that it would make it 'virtually impossible, or excessively difficult' for many people of modest means to exercise their right to bring an ET claim and would discriminate against employees with a protected characteristic.

The challenge was dismissed by the High Court in February 2014 as at that time there was as yet insufficient evidence to support the union’s arguments. However, the Court said that it was incumbent on the Lord Chancellor to keep the system under careful review to eliminate, as far as humanly possible, any indirect discrimination.

Since the High Court's decision, quarterly statistics published by the Ministry of Justice show a substantial year-on-year fall in the number of ET claims received. Prior to the introduction of fees, there were on average 48,000 new claims per quarter. In the quarter April to June 2014, only 8,540 new claims were lodged, 81 per cent fewer than in the same period in 2013.

In the light of these statistics, Unison was granted permission to launch fresh proceedings and these will be heard on 21 and 22 October.

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