Tribunal Fees – Judicial Review Dismissed
Not deterred by the failure oftheir first Judicial Review in relation to the introduction ofEmployment Tribunal fees, UNISON raised a second challenge in theHigh Court.
The High Court, however,dismissed the Judicial Review finding it was not satisfied thatthere was sufficient evidence that the "striking" dropping ofclaims since the introduction of fees was due to a Claimant'sinability to pay.
The High Court pointed tothere being insufficient evidence to prove that Claimants wereunable rather than simply unwilling to pay Employment Tribunalfees. The Court determined that to conclusively establishthat individuals were unable to pay Employment Tribunal fees wouldrequire them to look at the income and expenditure of theindividuals involved to determine whether it was "virtuallyimpossible or excessively difficult" for Claimants to bringclaims. The High Court also indicated that it was notconvinced that the statistics demonstrated that the introduction ofEmployment Tribunal fees placed women, ethnic minorities or thedisabled at a substantial disadvantage. Furthermore, if theHigh court were wrong and such groups were placed at a disadvantageit concluded that it would be in pursuit of three legitimateobjectives, to transfer one third of the annual cost of runningEmployment Tribunals and the EAT to those users who benefit from itand can afford it, to make Tribunals more efficient and effectiveby removing unmeritorious claims and to encourage alternativemethods of employment dispute resolution. The High Court wenton to determine that the policy of charging higher fees for certaintypes of claims which as a general rule used up more of theTribunals' time and resources was legitimate and that the feeregime as a whole together with arrangements for remission wasproportionate and justified.
It is understood that leave toappeal has been granted and that UNISON has announced that it willproceed with its appeal at the Court of Appeal.
UNISON's General Secretary hasindicated a willingness to fight on to ensure that what hedescribes as "punitive fees" introduced by the Government areabolished.
Recent statistics in factdemonstrate that the most recent quarterly figures from July toSeptember 2014 demonstrate that there were 66% fewer claims lodgedthan in the same period of 2013 (although fees were thenpayable).
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