back to article Slapping crap bosses just got cheaper: Blighty's Supreme Court nixes tribunal fees

The Supreme Court has ruled that today's employment tribunal fees are unlawful, opening the floodgates to hacked off employees (and ex-employees) across the country. In an application for judicial review brought by trade union Unison, the UK's highest court unanimously found that the Employment Appeal Tribunal Fees Order 2013 …


    1. Mad Mike


      The whole issue here is the validity of the case being brought. Yes, people should have the same access to the courts regardless of wealth etc. However, there have been plenty of cases where unpleasant people (not necessarily with money) have used the courts to pursue and harass someone who has done no wrong. Normally, it ends up with the target taking a big financial hit as well. All sorts of spurious and malicious claims. Many of these have been done with public funds (legal aid) as well. I've personally known a lot of people who have had to defend themselves with their own money, whilst their spouse (or ex-spouse) has got legal aid and is relatively unaffected.

      Sadly, access to courts can never be independent of money, because apart from anything else, it affects the quality of the representation you get. If you put a legal aid barrister against a £10k a day barrister, there's an immediate issue of quality. Obviously, if you've got an easy, solid case, you might be OK. But, anything that needs arguing etc., you could well be at a distinct disadvantage.

      As with a lot of things, I feel radical change is necessary to make it as fair as possible, but whilst also removing the abusers. Can't say I know how to do it, but the system at the moment is generally not fit for purpose.

  1. JimmyPage Silver badge

    And for those that have suffered as a result ?

    How about people who had a valid case, but were unable to bring it ?

    Presumably they can take whistling lessons from BoJo ?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can see both sides of the argument, shyster lawyers miking the system for inflated fees on behalf of vexatious litigants and those genuinely wronged who can't afford justice. The latter has been solved by this ruling, we now need to tackle the former.

    There are those doing a roaring trade in fake whiplash claims and food poisoning scams who could be eyeing this new opportunity, they shove up costs and breed distrust for the majority of people out there who are honest.

    1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Or vexatious litigants alone

      Vexatious litigants go into it for the hope of a big cash award or for vengeance etc. Lawyers are not necessary shysters for representing them.

      1. Richocet

        Re: Or vexatious litigants alone

        Vexatious litigants try to damage their target financially, waste their time, and cause them stress via the legal system when their case is frivolous. These people have to have decent financial resources and a black heart to be in a position to try it.

        Unfortunately this wastes even more money and time for the courts (funded by taxpayers).

        It would be amazing if someone came up with a solution that made it unquestionably not worth it to use the courts to harass others, while keeping the costs of accessing the legal system low.

        Another challenge to tackle is how to get equal outcomes for people regardless of how much money they throw at lawyers. You know what I mean - in the US poor people go to jail for trivial things then lose their right to vote plus become unemployable, while rich people get acquitted of serious things.

  3. sebt

    Great and correct decision

    Leaving only the question: how is this going to be spun as "ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE"?


    1. Clockworkseer

      Re: Great and correct decision

      Thats certainly how certain "newspapers" were spinning it. "Oh my god, bosses can now be flooded with hundreds of spurious claims. Won;t somebody think of the elite!"

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    does this mean us small businesses without money for lawyers can pursue employees who - for example - walk out without statutory notice? no? didn't think so...

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Well, no, because that's not what employment tribunals are for. You'd be looking at taking out a simple civil case for breach of contract.

  5. Jim 59

    The Supreme Court is part of the same legal profession that will, once you have filed your complaint and taken your employer to a tribunal, charge you £750 an hour or more for barrister representation.

    In 2006 I took an employer to tribunal over unfair dismissal. It was all going well until it got to the part where hiring a barister was required (there is no choice; it is a requirement). Even for 1 day, the price was over £1500. Fortunately for me, the employer settled on terms before it came to court.

    (Tip: tick that "family legal cover" box on your house insurance.)

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "charge you £750 an hour or more for barrister representation.

      Even for 1 day, the price was over £1500."

      At £750 an hour the price per day would be several times £1500.

      1. hmv

        Tribunals are rarely held in the Supreme Court thus 750 an hour and 1500 a day are not incompatible.

      2. Jim 59

        "At £750 an hour the price per day would be several times £1500."

        It would indeed. Itemised, this was the barristers bill for just a couple of hours iirc.

        I look forward to professional engineers like myself obtaining a similar closed shop arrangement, so that only people with a BEng are allowed to touch or operate computers, and we can charge similar amounts.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          so that only people with a BEng are allowed to touch or operate computers

          As the holder of a mere HND in computing, I would be happy to let BEng's touch a computer just as long as I was allowed to design and build a major road bridge.

          Yeah, I've seen what you know-it-alls do to computer systems. FFS.

    2. JohnMurray

      Doesn't cost that much if you're in a union.

      Just the union dues....

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Doesn't cost that much if you're in a union.

        Just the union dues....

        Exactly. This is the best way to spread out the cost of insurance, just like paying taxes to support the NHS with access for everyone is better than buying private healthcare insurance. And if your union also does a deal with a building society to drop 0.25% off a mortgage (OK, maybe not as likely now as it was ten years ago), well, it's almost like the entire arrangement pays for itself. Yet some people still revile unions and everything they stand for...

  6. FozzyBear Silver badge


    Can't we just publicly execute the power elite.

    Sure it caused a bit of a kerfuffle in France a while ago. But it certainly sent the message don’t f$ck with the people.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Well

      That's a bit extreme, perhaps instead there should be a charge for Chris Greyling, every time he puts forward a policy?

      This might prevent vexatious legislation, like reducing Legal Aid (poor people don't need lawyers!), introducing court charges (it's cheaper to plead guilty!), prison benchmarking (why spend money on prisons?), banning prisoners from having books (why would anyone want them to improve their minds eh?).

      Still, his tenure as Justice Secretary did have the side effect of making Gove look better by comparison when he took over, which is pretty bloody miraculous.


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