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Unison fails in its challenge to the tribunal fee regime

A couple of days ago, the Court of Appeal dismissed Unison’s appeals against its judicial review applications challenging the legality of the Tribunal fees, which were introduced in July 2013.  The judgement can be viewed here.

Whilst the Court of Appeal confirmed that it was “troubled” by the sharp decline in employment Tribunal claims by nearly 80%, it could not conclude that the drop was entirely down to the fact that potential claimants could not afford the fees.

The Court of Appeal added that because there is a fee remission regime in place, which allows for consideration of “exceptional circumstances”, it could not conclude that the fee system in general was so unaffordable that claimants no longer had access to an effective remedy under European Union law.

The Court of Appeal also referred to the Government’s pledge to review the fee regime during this parliamentary term, which should enable the Government to ascertain whether the new regime has indeed deprived prospective claimants from access to Justice.

It is believed that Unison will seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, so it is likely that there will be further developments in the next few months.  The Government review of the fee regime may also bring some changes.  This subject therefore remains a political hot potato, with candidates for the Labour party leadership all proposing some changes or the abolition of the fee regime.

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