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Supreme court rules employment tribunal fees unlawful

Fees for those bringing employment tribunal claims are unlawful, the Supreme Court has ruled, and the government will now have to repay up to £32m to claimants.

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The Ministry of Justice said the government would take immediate steps to stop charging and refund payments.

The government introduced fees of up to £1,200 in 2013, but that led to a 79% reduction over three years.


Trade union Unison argued the fees prevented workers accessing justice. The Supreme Court ruled the government was acting unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it introduced the fees.


Fees ranged between £390 and £1,200. Discrimination cases cost more for claimants because of the complexity and time hearings took, and the Supreme Court found this was indirectly discriminatory because a higher proportion of women would bring discrimination cases.


The court’s summary added claimants in low or middle income household could not afford the fees "without sacrificing ordinary and reasonable expenditure for substantial periods of time".

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