SWEENEY Miller has backed the UK Supreme Court’s decision to end employment tribunal fees of up to £1,200 for complainants.
The ruling will offer hope to tens of thousands who might want to take their employer to a tribunal for bullying or discrimination but were put off by the fear of having to fork our four-figure fees.
Paul Miller said: “This is a common sense decision and is to be welcomed. In our view, those who look to go down the employment tribunal route do not make the decision lightly.
“And if they do have a legitimate grievance it’s wrong that they would be put off because they can’t afford the fees that existed up to to this point.”
The Sunderland and Newcastle firm of solicitors take a stance which is reflected nationally by the Law Society.
Law Society president, Joe Egan, said: “This decision is a triumph for access to justice, and a resounding blow against attempts to treat justice as a commodity rather than the right it is.
“We argued against the hike in tribunal fees before it was implemented and – like so many others – warned that they would deny people the chance to uphold their basic rights at work. Now the Supreme Court has vindicated that view, and restored access to justice for those mistreated in the workplace.”
The Law Society has previously highlighted the massive drop in cases coming to the tribunal in the wake of the fees being introduced.
It has also pointed to figures – contained in the Ministry of Justice’s own review of the fees – showing at least 14,000 people every year are unable to afford to go to the tribunal to resolve their claims, as well as tens of thousands of missing cases.
Commenting on the wider implications of the case, Joe Egan added: “As the Supreme Court identified, these fees placed an insurmountable barrier in the way of tens of thousands of people.
“Access to justice is a fundamental right – if you can’t enforce your rights then it renders them meaningless. Today’s decision will serve as an urgently needed wake-up call – justice must never be a luxury for those who can afford it, it is a right we all share.”