UNISON has been granted permission to appeal against the High Court’s decision (Brief 992) to reject its judicial review challenge to the introduction of employment tribunal and EAT fees on 29 July 2013. According to UNISON, the Court of Appeal decided on the papers that ‘the basis of the issue is of sufficient general importance to merit permission to appeal’.
Before the High Court, UNISON had argued, among other things, that the introduction of fees would deny access to justice for workers treated unfairly by employers and would have a disproportionate impact on women. Lord Justice Moses, who gave judgment, considered that because the fees were introduced last year the full impact could not yet be judged. However, he went on to accept that if the employment tribunal receipt statistics for July to September 2013, which showed a significant decrease in tribunal claims, were ‘anything like accurate then the impact of the fees regime has been dramatic’. He considered that the figures might turn out to be evidence of a breach of the principle of effectiveness and stated that, if so, he expected that the Lord Chancellor would change the system without any need for further litigation.
UNISON has stated that it will ask the Court of Appeal to consider the ‘shocking’ quarterly tribunal statistics for October to December 2013, which revealed a 79 per cent decrease in the number of employment tribunal claims received when compared with the period October to December 2012.
Figures for tribunal claims lodged between January and March 2014 are expected to be released in June.