The Latest from the Court of Appeal on Tribunal Fees
By Linda Powell Unison the Union’s case for judicial review of the Government’s decision to introduce tribunal fees was heard in the Court of Appeal last week regarding the introduction of tribunal fees, which are argued by the Union and employees inhibit access to justice by breaching a European legal principle of “effectiveness” where there is a domestic procedural hurdle in place which obstructs justice or makes it excessively difficult or impossible to enforce legal rights. Unison is also arguing that the tribunal fees are indirectly discriminatory and impact adversely on women in the workplace amongst others. The Ministry of Justice recently issued statistics demonstrating a massive reduction of 70% of single claims compared to those in the same quarter, April to June 2014, which demonstrate a massive reduction in tribunal claims being brought by employees. Whilst may be great news for employers, access to tribunals by employees in deserving cases where for example discrimination or whistleblowing issues may be at stake appears to certainly be impeded. Unison will be arguing that the fees regime should be quashed. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has also applied to intervene so that it can make arguments. There is also a similar case for judicial review pending in the Scottish court system, which is currently stayed pending the decision in the English matter. The Court of Appeal has not yet delivered its judgment, but is expected later on in the year. A decision is expected later this year. Nevertheless, the decision may not be the final word on the matter. There could be further appeals from that decision, with the existing appeal also being revived. The Government is also consulting on the fees and remission schemes, and the outcome of that consultation is expected very soon. The prediction is that tribunal fees are here to stay but expected to be reduced.