The High Court has rejected Unison’s claim that tribunal fees are unlawful. The claim was based on two grounds – that the fees were a barrier to justice and that they indirectly discriminated against women.
The first ground was rejected because no evidence was presented to demonstrate that any individual had even asserted that he or she had been unable to bring a claim because of cost, and the second ground was rejected because the ‘appropriate pool’ of those who could bring employment tribunal claims comprises both male and female claimants.
However, the longer term future of tribunal fees is not secure, as Unison was given permission to appeal the decision to the Court of Appeal. In addition, the government has said it will review the way fees are operating, and a change in government this year could result in a significant reduction in fee levels, as both the Labour party and the Liberal Democrats have indicated that they would introduce reforms to the tribunal system.
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