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29/06/2013 - Unison to challenge Tribunal fees

A legal challenge against charges of up to £1,000 to take cases to employment tribunals has been launched by Britain’s biggest public sector union Unison.

The controversial fees for workers fighting unfair dismissal and discrimination cases are due to be introduced by the Tory-led Coalition on 29 July.

Under the new structure, parties will have to pay an upfront fee to raise a claim with a further 'hearing fee' once the case is referred to a tribunal. Flat fees will apply to EAT cases.

The amount payable to refer 'level 2' unfair dismissal or discrimination claims will be £250 with a further hearing fee of £950, making a total of £1,200. A full hearing for an administratively simple 'level 1' claim will be £390. The remission system which currently operates to exempt people on low incomes from having to pay the full fees will be extended to apply to employment tribunals.

A consultation closed last month on changes to the fee remission scheme. The Government is proposing to introduce a single remission scheme across the variety of UK civil courts and tribunals, to replace the variety of schemes currently in operation. The consultation proposed a new test which would look at a combination of workers' income and capital savings to decide whether they would be entitled to the payment of some or all of their fees.

But Unison has applied to the High Court in London for a judicial review to stop the “brutal” charges being introduced.