Supreme Court rules that employment tribunal fees are unlawful

25 July 2017

Following the introduction of the Employment Tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunals Fees Order 2013 ("the Order"), the number of employment tribunal cases have been said to have decreased by 70%. Why? It is likely due to potential claimants being unable to afford the Tribunal fee. Tribunal fees vary depending on the case and personal circumstances but typical fees range from £300 to £1,200, excluding legal fees.

The Supreme Court has today ruled that the Order is unlawful and has prevented workers accessing justice. Baroness Hale also concluded that the fees indirectly discriminated against females by charging more for discrimination claims which women are more likely to have.

The Government has agreed to refund all fees that were paid since the introduction of the fees in 2013. The Government will also need to decide on a replacement regime because it is unlikely that they will abolish the fee structure entirely as one aim of the regime is to prevent unnecessary cases being brought to the Employment Tribunal. Another issue that the Government now needs to consider is whether to allow cases, which have exceeded the time limit, to proceed out of time where the reason for not pursuing it within time was due to Tribunal fees. 

Over the next few months, the Government will have to conclude how they plan to resolve numerous issues following the Supreme Court ruling. 

If you are concerned that you may be affected by these changes, or you seek advice on any aspect of employment law, please contact Alexandra Dean on 01245 228141 or email

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.