Unison hails 'landmark' win in employment tribunal fees legal battle

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner

The public sector union, Unison, has won a "landmark" court victory against the government over controversial employment tribunal fees.

As a result of the Supreme Court ruling, the government is to take immediate steps to stop charging the controversial fees of up to £1,200 for taking a case to tribunal.

Unison said the government will also have to refund more than £27 million to the thousands of people charged for taking claims to tribunal since July 2013, when fees were introduced by Chris Grayling, the then lord chancellor.

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the government was acting unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it introduced the fees four years ago.

Unison had argued fees of discriminated against women and other groups of workers.

Unison boss Dave Prentis said: "The government is not above the law, but when ministers introduced fees they were disregarding laws many centuries old, and showing little concern for employees seeking justice following illegal treatment at work.

"The government has been acting unlawfully, and has been proved wrong - not just on simple economics, but on constitutional law and basic fairness too.

"These unfair fees have let law-breaking bosses off the hook these past four years, and left badly treated staff with no choice but to put up or shut up.

Justice Minister Dominic Raab said: ""The Supreme Court recognised the important role fees can play, but ruled that we have not struck the right balance in this case. We will take immediate steps to stop charging fees in employment tribunals and put in place arrangements to refund those who have paid."

The fees were introduced by the then lord chancellor, Chris Grayling. Credit: PA

David Isaac, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: "Thousands may have been denied of this right and priced out of getting justice.

"The judgement of the Supreme Court is a damning verdict on the current regime."

A review of the impact of the fees earlier this year showed there had been a 70% drop in the number of cases since they were introduced in 2013.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "This is a massive win for working people.

"Too many low-paid workers couldn't afford to uphold their rights at work, even when they've faced harassment or have been sacked unfairly."