Trade union Unison has been granted permission to appeal two High Court decisions on new fees for employment tribunals. The appeals are expected to be heard together in June.
Unison had sought to question the legality of fees introduced by the government in July 2013.
Its legal challenge was originally dismissed by the High Court in February 2014 as the argument was ‘premature’. Dismissing a second challenge last December, the court said there was still insufficient evidence to show the fees were making it more difficult to bring cases to a tribunal.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis (pictured) said today’s Court of Appeal decision to hear the appeals was significant because ‘every worker who has been forced to pay these punitive fees may get their money back if Unison’s case is successful’.
He added: ‘We are pleased that the issue is being taken seriously. We hope that the court will recognise that the government’s fees regime is having a significant impact on the ability of workers to access justice, particularly low-paid women.’
Unison challenged the fee scheme on two grounds: prohibitive cost for bringing a claim and indirect discrimination against women, ethnic minorities and the disabled.
The introduction of tribunal fees in July 2013 appears to have had a dramatic impact on the number of claims made.
The number of claims dropped by 81% to 6,019 between January and March 2014, compared with the same quarter in 2013, according to government statistics. In the last quarter of 2013 claims fell by 79%, compared with the last quarter of 2012.
For an individual claimant the fees are £400 on issue and £1,200 following a direction by the tribunal that the matter is to proceed to an oral hearing.