Top Essex employment solicitor comments on Supreme Court’s decision to rule tribunal fees unlawful

Lara Murray, an Associate Solicitor at Palmers Solicitors who specialises in employment law matters, has said that the Supreme Court’s ruling that employment fees are “unlawful” is “long overdue” and may open the doors to more claims.

The Supreme Court has found that the government had acted unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it introduced the fees in 2013, during a case brought by the union, UNISON.

The union claimed that the introduction of fees had limited employee’s access to justice, an assessment that the Court agreed with when making its decision.

In order to bring an employment case to tribunal claimants have been expected to pay fees ranging between £390 and £1,200.

However, The Ministry of Justice has already confirmed that these fees will be refunded to Claimants, while also placing an immediate stop to future charges. The Government is believed to have raised an additional £32 million during the last few years through tribunal fees.

Responding to the ruling, Lara said: “When fees were initially introduced I noticed a sharp drop in the number of claims submitted to employment tribunals, although this did appear to even out somewhat over the following years, which obviously affected the amount of claimant work coming to law firms.

“It is clear that the fees had a prohibitive effect on many workers who would have otherwise brought claims. This ruling is long overdue.”

She has said that in the immediate term the decision would mean that more people could bring their cases before a tribunal but she questioned what it would mean for those who had already been discouraged to bring a claim in the past, as claims are typically allowed to be launched within three months of the dismissal occurring.

“Perhaps some employees will seek an extension of time on grounds that it was not reasonably practicable for them to submit their claim within the time limit because they could not afford the fee,” added Lara.

Addressing businesses, she said that as always they “ought to be taking reasonable steps to adhere to best practice in HR, in order to avoid the inconvenience and expense of employment tribunal claims” and recommended that they regularly review their practices.

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