Between 10th September 2014 and 10th December 2014 the Court of Appeal shall hear Unison’s challenge to the introduction of Tribunal fees. The High Court dismissed Unison’s challenge on 7th February 2014 on the basis that it has been brought prematurely and that the evidence required to persuade the Court to overturn the fees was absent. Unison now submit that they have evidence in the form of statistics showing a 79% reduction in Tribunal claims.
The government has given an undertaking that if fees are found to be unlawful, all fees will be repaid with interest.
Whilst the fee regime has clearly had an effect on the numbers of Tribunal claims submitted, here at Premier Legal, we consider that this is to do with the rush of submitting claims before the fee regime came into force. We are acting on a number of issued cases and have not really noticed a decrease in claims. What we do think, is that the fees serve as a deterrent and make potential claimants and their advisers think twice about submitting a claim. We also find that whilst there is a suggestion by Unison that the fees prohibit access to justice, many claimants now fund their claims by way of legal expenses policies which do cover both legal and Tribunal fees.
We consider that the fee regime therefore needed to address the numbers of claims that were being submitted, many of which had little or no prospects of success. Is the answer to remove the fee regime? We do not think so.
Perhaps the fees need to be revised and reduced especially in the case of the hearing fee.