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Blog  »  July 2017  »  The biggest employment law decision ever in the UK? - Blog
Jul 17

Posted by
Laura Murphy

The biggest employment law decision ever in the UK?

This week saw the Supreme Court rule employment tribunal fees as unlawful. The ruling has been heralded as possibly the biggest employment law decision ever in the UK.

Employment tribunal fees of up to £1,200 were introduced in 2013. Consequently, we saw a dramatic fall in a number of tribunal cases being brought. In the year before the fees were introduced, there were 5,847 claims taken to employment tribunals. This fell to 1,740 in the year after fees were introduced.

The ruling has been welcomed across the board and is seen as a win for justice. In welcoming the ruling, the CIPD has said that fees were denying access to justice for many people, consequently, it is highly likely that some perfectly valid claims have never been heard.

What does it mean now?

First and foremost, any employee who brought a claim since 2013 will be refunded any fees they paid.

Going forward it is likely that we are going to see a significant rise in the number of claims being brought. Although there might be an initial rush, over time it is doubtful that claim levels will reach the dizzy heights seen pre-tribunal fees. There are two main reasons for this; we now have the Acas mandatory conciliation scheme, as well as the fact that unfair dismissal rights now accrue after two years service rather than one.

To help prevent being caught in a precarious tribunal situation or with a costly settlement, employers should at the very minimum ensure they have robust policies and procedures in place to rely on in such situations.

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