Commenting on the Supreme Court judgment that employment tribunal fees are unlawful, Stuart Naismith, Convener of the Law Society of Scotland’s Access to Justice Committee, said:
“We wholeheartedly welcome this judgment. The effect of introducing fees has been drastic and resulted in an unfair system which prevents legitimate cases being heard by a tribunal. We believe the fees have been a major barrier to access to justice for thousands of people, with the huge drop in the number of cases being brought to an employment tribunal supporting this.”
Figures showed an 81% drop in the number of claims accepted in the last quarter of 2013/14, after the fees were introduced.
Naismith added: "The employment tribunal system has worked well throughout its history, offering an impartial tribunal to resolve workplace disputes. The relationship between employer and claimant is often imbalanced and having a system which serves both parties effectively is crucial in the interests of fairness. We are also pleased to see the court articulate the wider constitutional principles around access to justice and the rule of law.
“We expressed concerns around the access to justice impact of fees in 2012, prior to their introduction, and urged the UK Government to rethink the introduction of employment tribunal fees in 2014 as research we carried out showed the impact that these fees had on tribunal claims. We also raised the issue with the Scottish Government in light of the impending transfer of jurisdiction of the tribunal service. We are very pleased at this outcome - the judgment reiterates the importance of access to justice to a fair and just society."