In what may be one of the most monumental employment decisions in recent times, the Supreme Court has just ruled that the employment tribunal fees system is unlawful.
In R (on the application of Unison) v Lord Chancellor (Supreme Court), Unison's challenge to the employment tribunal's fees system succeeded at the final hurdle.
In a damning indictment of the use of high fees to reduce the number of cases,seven Supreme Court judges decided unanimously that the employment tribunal fees system is unlawful and the legislation that introduced the fees must be quashed.
The case has been described as one of the most important judgements in the history of UK employment law, and an important constitutional case,reiterating that the Government cannot use its powers to block citizens' access to justice.
It will now have to pay back around £32 million to claimants who have already been charged a fee since they were introduced in 2013.
The Supreme Court ruled that the Employment Appeal Tribunal Fees Order 2013,which allowed fees to be imposed in respect of proceedings in employment tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal,was unlawful, both at common law and under European Union law,and indirectly discriminating, because it effectively prevented access to justice.
The decision begs important questions.Firstly,will the system of fees be abolished completely or will a new fee structure be introduced taking in mind the Supreme Court's ruling? Secondly ,what about all those people who chose not to bring a claim when a claimant was significantly impeded from doing so by an unlawful fees regime?
R (on the application of Unison) v Lord Chancellor (2017) UKSC