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Eversheds comment: Important day for UNISON in battle against fees regime for employment tribunals

  • United Kingdom

    17-09-2014

    Commenting on the impending Court of Appeal decision on UNISON's battle against the fees regime for employment tribunals, Simon Rice-Birchall, partner at law firm Eversheds, says:

    “Tomorrow is an important day in UNISON’s battle against the fees regime which has resulted in such a significant fall in the number of employment tribunal claims.

    “UNISON is pursuing judicial review proceedings against the Government in which it alleges that the fees regime breaches the EU principle of effectiveness by making it excessively difficult to enforce employment rights, and is indirectly discriminatory. Although UNISON’s arguments were rejected by the High Court following a hearing last year, the union is appealing that decision and tomorrow the Court of Appeal is hearing an application from UNISON in which they are seeking permission to adduce fresh evidence and to appeal on further grounds.

    “UNISON will doubtless be hoping to rely on the latest statistics to shore up its case for the fees regime to be quashed. Statistics published just last week by the UK Ministry of Justice (for the period April to June 2014) confirmed a sustained reduction in the number of employment tribunal claims lodged since the fees regime was introduced last year, adding further support to the proceedings being pursued by UNISON.

    “UNISON’s challenge is not the only threat however. Separate proceedings for judicial review are pending in the Scottish court system but are currently stayed pending the outcome of UNISON’s case; the Government has committed to keeping the fees and remission schemes under review, details of which can be expected anytime; and, although no detail has been forthcoming, Labour has indicated that it is committed to reform of the fees regime.

    “Unless there is a change of Government however, any potential reform resulting from judicial review proceedings or the Government’s review is likely to be a reduction in the fees payable, or an adjustment of the remission scheme, rather than a wholesale repeal. Eventually, therefore, although this may result in a small increase in the number of claims, it is unlikely they will reach the levels we have seen in the past.”

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