Today the Supreme Court has upheld Unison's challenge to the Government's imposition of fees for Employment Tribunals. Decried from the outset by many commentators as an unfair barrier to justice, the fee regime has now been quashed in its entirety, on the basis that it unjustly interferes with employees' ability to enforce their rights under both domestic and EU law, and that it discriminates against women and other protected groups.
Nick Thorpe, partner at Fieldfisher comments:
"Today's decision will require a radical re-think of the fees regime and its impact on access to justice. While the Government had proposed some changes earlier in the year, they had stopped short of a wholesale redrawing of the fee regime.
What was becoming evidentially clear but was always blindingly obvious is that the introduction of fees deterred employees from bringing claims. But access to justice does not necessarily mean giving people their "day in court".
What should not be overlooked in all of this is the success of the ACAS early conciliation service, and other forms of conciliation and mediation, in resolving claims and it would be disappointing if we lose sight of this following this decision. Clearly, it is in the interest of employees and employers that the focus remains on resolution, rather than dispute.
It would be a step backwards to return to a needlessly adversarial or confrontational approach to resolving workplace disputes."
There is no right of appeal and we now await the Government's response. More comment to follow…