Unison has suffered a further blow in its battle against the Government’s hike in tribunal fees as the Court of Appeal dismisses its third appeal for Judicial Review.
The enhanced fees, which were introduced in July 2013, see claimants having to pay anything up to £1,200 to bring a claim against their employer. Unison has argued that a dramatic drop of 79% in tribunal claims has “no obvious explanation other than the introduction of fees”.
Whilst Underhill LJ accepted that he was “troubled” by this stark fall in the number of claims, he held that “the case based on the overall decline in claims cannot succeed by itself. It needs to be accompanied by evidence of the actual affordability of the fees in the financial circumstances of (typical) individuals.”
Underhill LJ went on to say that because fee waivers are available in exceptional circumstances, it cannot be said that the fee system is, in general, unaffordable. It is clear that Unison has failed to place sufficient evidence before the Court to make a persuasive application for Judicial Review.
General Secretary of Unison, Dave Prentis, has acknowledged that this is a major setback and commented that “many unscrupulous employers will be rubbing their hands together in glee at the news.”
Whilst Judicial Review is looking unlikely, there is a glint of hope for employees and their unions as the Government has recently committed to a review of the employment tribunal system which is expect to be completed later this year.
Despite this defeat for Unison, they show no sign of backing down and have confirmed that they will seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. Unison will no doubt be armed with evidence of cases where aggrieved employees have been unable to make a tribunal claim as a result of financial hardship.