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Following the introduction of Employment Tribunal (ET) fees in July 2013, the UK’s largest public service trade union, Unison, supported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, brought judicial review proceedings challenging the lawfulness of the new regime on the basis that it would make it ‘virtually impossible, or excessively difficult’ for many people of modest means to exercise their right to bring an ET claim and would discriminate against employees with a protected characteristic.
The challenge was dismissed by the High Court in February 2014. Whilst understanding Unison’s belief that the lawfulness of the fee regime had to be challenged ‘as a matter of urgency’, the ‘fundamental flaw’ in the proceedings was that there was as yet insufficient evidence to support the arguments made for overturning it.
Since that time, quarterly statistics published by the Ministry of Justice show a substantial year-on-year fall in the number of ET claims received, with only 8,540 new claims lodged in April to June 2014, 81 per cent fewer than in the same period last year.
Unison had been granted permission to appeal against the ruling but the Lord Chancellor was of the view that a new judicial review should take place and this will be heard on 21 and 22 October 2014.