On 26 July 2017 the Supreme Court held that the employment tribunal fee regime was unlawful. The Court found that the fees were not set at an affordable level and effectively prevented access to justice in the employment tribunal. The Court quashed the 2013 Fees Order.
What does this mean for Employers?
As a result of the Court's ruling, from 26 July 2017 claimants in employment tribunal cases cannot be required to pay fees. This means that a person bringing a new claim will not be charged fees to bring his/her claim.
The ruling also affects current claims as the claimants who have paid a fee to bring the claim will now no longer be required to pay the fee to set the claim down for hearing which was the larger element of the total fee payable. As a result it may now be more difficult for an employer to settle an existing claim as the claimant will no longer be subject to the fee pressure in setting the claim down for hearing. The government has promised to reimburse those who have had to pay fees under the quashed fee regime therefore it is likely that the claimants will be entitled to recover fees already paid to the government.
It is likely that there will be an initial rise in the number of employment tribunal claims. Following the imposition of fees in 2013 the Government's official figures showed a 70% drop in cases; it is therefore fair to assume that the number of claims to the employment tribunal will rise as a result of the Supreme Court's ruling.
At the current time it is not known whether or not individuals who did not bring a claim because they could not afford the fees payable at the time will now be permitted to make a claim albeit that their claims would be out of time under the normal rules.
It is also not known at the current time whether or not the Government will introduce a new fee regime.
Moving forward, employers should ensure that they keep up-to-date with changes in employment law and the effects those changes have on their business.
Taylor Walton LLP provides regular workshops on the practical effects of employment law for both HR managers and also businesses who do not have an in-house HR resource. Details of our free workshops can be found on our website.
Taylor Walton LLP can also make available to its’ clients the benefit of an insurance product to reduce the impact of claims on their client's businesses.