Supreme Court rules tribunal fees are unlawful
In a landmark ruling over employee’s access to justice, the Supreme Court has ruled that tribunal fees are unlawful.
This is a brave decision by the Supreme Court but could take months if not years to unravel.
However, tribunals are now already accepting physical forms without a fee, and there is likely to be a sharp influx in the number of cases in the very short term.
This is a significant overruling of the Government’s decision in 2013 to charge fees for previously free tribunal claims, with the key objective to provide more access to justice for wronged employees.
However, the expected influx of tribunal cases is likely to cause the already struggling courts to be clogged up within weeks. Individuals could see their cases taking up to 12 months to reach a hearing.
The Government now faces not only the problem of returning the fees paid since July 2013 but also re-staffing the tribunal system at a time when the number of judges has already been reduced. For the system to have any hope of working, judges will need to take a robust approach when vetting cases in order to strike out vexatious claims at an early stage.
What does this mean for my business?
Whilst the impact of this ruling on the tribunal system will take a long time to unravel, it is important that businesses are prepared now.
HR departments need to be more active than ever in promoting positive and good relations with employees to avoid the reputational risks, time and cost of tribunal claims.