Claimants and employers are now able to begin the process of reclaiming money spent on Employment Tribunal fees, the Ministry of Justice has announced. This follows the Supreme Court ruling that fees are illegal announced in July.
Fees were introduced in 2013 as an attempt to reduce the number of vexatious claims and resulted in a 70% fall in the number of claims. Many have seen fees as a barrier to justice as people couldn’t afford to bring a claim. Critics went to the courts to get them removed and were ultimately successful as the court ruled that they were an obstruction to justice, discriminatory against women and were not compatible with some aspects of EU law. Anyone who paid fees from July 2013-July 2017 is eligible for a refund, including employers who were forced to cover the costs of the claimant. This could lead to over 100,000 claims costing the government over £27 million.
However, this may not be the end of the story as the Government has stated its intention to reintroduce fees since the court said they could be legal if they secured access to justice. That being said, given that the Government only has a small working majority and the general opposition to fees, it would be surprising to see fees re-introduced. This view has been supported by comments made at a Conservative Party fringe event at the party conference by Justice Minister Dominic Raab.