Making Reward Personal: TUC awaits verdict on whether upfront fees to launch a tribunal is unlawful for staff


The Court of Appeal is today expected to make a decision about whether a judicial review should be set up to decide whether introducing upfront fees for staff to bring tribunals against their employer is lawful.

The controversial fees were first introduced in 2013, to discourage false or vexations claims being made against employers. Until then, anyone could take their employer to court. Fees would be paid, deducted from claims, should they be successful.

As predicted, since fees (of up to £1,200 upfront) were introduced, the number of claims being brought against employers fell dramatically – by 79% in the last quarter of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012.

At the time the TUC mounted a claim, arguing employees were being priced out of justice. The High Court dismissed this, saying more time was needed to review the longer-term drop in cases.

Two previous challenges failed after the High Court said there was insufficient evidence to link fees with a denial of meritorious claims.

It is whether the Court of Appeal now thinks there has been a large enough fall in cases to warrant a review that is being decided upon today.

A spokesman from law firm Charles Russell Speechly said: “If the appeal is successful today, then a judicial review of the fees regime will now be held.”

He added: “The outcome of a judicial review process could be that fees will be overturned altogether. If this did happen, it would have a huge impact on employers and employees alike, with litigation likely to soar.

In addition to this, the government has already given an undertaking that if fees are found to be unlawful in the future, all fees paid will be repaid with interest.”

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