Tribunal fees came into force on Monday 29th July 2013, despite two applications for judicial review to determine if they are unlawful. Employment partner Kate Fretten, says “These applications have been made on the basis that it is unlawful to introduce fees which make it prohibitively difficult to enforce European Union law and that the fees will indirectly discriminate against women, who typically earn less than men.”
The first application was made a few weeks ago by Fox & Partners, a Scottish law firm that deals with many union cases. A preliminary hearing took place at the Scottish Court of Session on 11th July. The Court refused to grant an interim injunction to stop the fees coming into force on 29th July, on the basis that the government has said they will refund all fees if it is decided at the full hearing, scheduled for October, that they are unlawful.
The second application was made in England a few days after the Scottish one by UNISON. The unions have been very vocal in their opposition to the introduction of tribunal fees as it is going to cost them, and their members, potentially hundreds of thousands of pounds a year to bring claims in the tribunal. At the first preliminary hearing on Wednesday 24th July, conducted on a paper basis only by a Judge, the application was rejected. UNISON now get a second chance, at an oral hearing, which was listed to be heard on Monday 29th July itself.
We now know that Unison’s judicial review of the fee regime had its oral permission application in the High Court on Monday this week. Permission has been granted to proceed with the judicial review application, and there is a full hearing listed for October. Unison’s application for an interim injunction was refused, however, which means that the fees stand- at least for now.