Fees for employment tribunals have been ruled illegal by the Supreme Court.
Britain’s highest court unanimously ruled that the employment tribunal fees are illegal and that the government had acted unlawfully.
It also ruled that the fees were indirectly discriminatory to women.
The government introduced the fees in 2013 in an attempt to reduce the number of tribunal cases that had malicious intent.
Fees for tribunal cases ranged from £390 to £1,200 to get a case heard at a hearing. At the time, trade unions argued that these fees would mean that workers were prevented from getting the justice they deserved.
Statistics from the Ministry of Justice showed that there was a 79 per cent fall in the number of tribunals over three years. Between 2016 and 2017, 88,476 cases were brought compared to 191,541 cases in the year before fees were introduced.
The government will now have to pay up to £32 million to thousands of people who were charged for tribunals since the law came into force. The court also ruled that the fee system should be stopped with immediate effect.
Handing down the court’s ruling, Lord Reed said that they had concluded that the fees, “have resulted in such a substantial and sustained fall in the number of claims being brought that it points to the conclusion that a significant number of people have found the fees unaffordable.”
Speaking about the ruling, UNISON general secretary, Dave Prentis said, “The government is not above the law.”
“But when ministers introduced fees they were disregarding laws many centuries old, and showing little concern for employees seeking justice following illegal treatment at work.”
“These unfair fees have let law-breaking bosses off the hook these past four years, and left badly treated staff with no choice but to put up or shut up.”
“We’ll never know how many people missed out because they couldn’t afford the expense of fees, but at last this tax on justice has been lifted.”