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The High Court has dismissed the second judicial review by Unison challenging the introduction of employment tribunal fees.

Employment tribunal fees were introduced in July 2013. Since their introduction, there has been a significant drop in tribunal cases.

This time around, Unison had relied on two grounds.

  1. The EU principle of effectiveness. Costs cannot be such that it is virtually impossible or at least exceptionally difficult for a significant number of potential claimants to bring a claim.
  2. Unison argued that the fee scheme was indirectly discriminatory with respect to women, ethnic minorities and the disabled.

The first claim failed on a lack of evidence. Despite the drop in cases there's no evidence at all that any individual had asserted that they had been unable to bring a claim because of cost.

As to the second, the court held that fees sought to achieve three objectives:

  1. to transfer some of the annual cost of running employment tribunals to the users who benefit from it and can afford it;
  2. to make tribunals more efficient; and
  3. to encourage alternative methods of employment dispute resolution.

Each was legitimate and the fees were justified and proportionate to any discriminatory effect. It was therefore not indirectly discriminatory.

Unison has been given permission to appeal and has indicated that it intends to do so. It may be that they now need to find a test case, an employee who can show that they were discouraged from brining a claim because of the prohibitive cost.


This is intended for general information only and should not be considered as giving advice in relation to any individual case nor be taken as applying to any particular case. No liability is accepted for any such use of the information contained.


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