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Tribunal fees judicial review set for October

Fees for employment tribunals and EAT come in today as injunction bid fails

29 July 2013

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The High Court has granted permission for a judicial review into today's introduction of fees for employment tribunal claims.

Claims for unpaid wages, holiday pay and redundancy now require an issue fee of £160 and a hearing fee of £230.

'Level two' claims, including unfair dismissal and discrimination, are charged an issue fee of £250 and hearing fee of £950.

UNISON launched the judicial review. The High Court rejected the application on paper last week, but later agreed to this morning's oral hearing. The union also applied for an injunction, to prevent the fee increase coming into effect, but this was rejected.

Dave Prentis, UNISON general secretary, said the ruling brought workers "one step closer to justice".

He went on: "I am pleased that UNISON has been successful in getting permission for a judicial review hearing. The introduction of punitive fees for taking a claim to an employment tribunal, would give the green light to unscrupulous employers to ride roughshod over already basic workers' rights.

"The government should not put a price on justice. It is disappointing that in the interim fees will still be paid, but we will be making a strong case for a judicial review in October because we believe that these fees are unfair and should be dropped."

The union argued that the fee increases were unjust and discriminatory, and breached EU law, by making it excessively difficult or virtually impossible for workers to exercise their rights in the face of fees that could be higher than the compensation sought.

UNISON said there had been no assessment of the public sector equality duty and the impact of fees on people with protected characteristics, and charging prohibitively high fees would have a disproportionate effect on women.

The Forum of Private Business welcomed the arrival of fees. Phil Orford, chief executive, said: "Whilst we do not expect radical change as a result of these fees, the forum hopes our members will see a reduction in the number of vexatious claims, as claimants think twice before initiating legal proceedings."

Adrian Barnes, head of employment at DBS Law in Birmingham, said: "As with all things there is a failsafe to make sure that those unable to afford the cost will have a remission from the fees, therefore, those on benefits (job seekers, if you have just lost your job) will be able to lodge a remission application instead of the fee.

"The introduction of fees has added another layer of bureaucracy, which will take even more time and resources to attend. It remains to be seen if there is any reduction in spurious claims."

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Tribunals & Courts