15 great reactions to today’s Supreme Court tribunal fees ruling

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Access to justice 1, Chris Grayling 0

Lawyers are bursting with pride and emotion over a Supreme Court ruling that declares employment tribunal fees unlawful.

The seven-strong bench unanimously sided with trade union UNISON in its legal action against the Lord Chancellor, over an employment tribunal ‘fees order’ introduced by Chris Grayling.

This order requires would-be litigants to pay up to £1,200 to access the tribunal, the effect of which has been dire. In the words of Winckworth Sherwood employment lawyer Tim Goodwin:

This has seen, in some areas, tribunal claims fall by up to 80%. Far from dissuading workers from bringing hopeless cases, the fees have discouraged genuine litigants from pursuing their rights simply on the basis that they cannot afford to pursue their employer.

UNISON — represented by Dinah Rose QC, Karon Monaghan QC and others — argued the making of the fees order was unlawful because: it interfered unjustifiably with the right to access to justice, it frustrated the operation of parliamentary legislation granting employment rights, and it discriminates unlawfully against women and other protected groups.

Today, Lord Neuberger, Lady Hale, Lord Mance, Lord Kerr, Lord Wilson, Lord Reed and Lord Hughes ended this four-year legal battle by siding with UNISON — here are 15 of our favourite reactions to the news.

1) Sean Jones QC admits he got tearful when reading the ruling

2) Take that Grayling, says human rights barrister Adam Wagner

3) Joshua Rozenberg loves Lord Reed’s judgment so much, he’s backing him for Supreme Court president

4) So does King’s College London academic James Lee!

5) This decision is going to cost the government a lot of money…

Christina Tolvas-Vincent, partner at Bond Dickinson, told us: “the Lord Chancellor previously gave an undertaking to repay all employment tribunal fees paid since 2013 if the fees order was found to be unlawful and the government will need to set up a system for repayment.”

6) Some more Grayling love

7) Don’t we all, Caspar Glyn QC

8) Air punch time

9) Could this be a revolution?

10) All the legal greats get a look-in (no Denning though)

11) Scenic

12) The Bar Council is also very happy

A spokesperson said: “This decision from the Supreme Court is welcome to all who believe in the fundamental importance of the rule of law.”

13) UNISON’s assistant general secretary couldn’t hide her joy

14) 🙌🙌🙌

15) Legal officer Michael Reed sums up just how important this court ruling is

Read the judgment in full below:

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The MoJ is the most active discriminatory there is.

Flexible operating hours is from the same genre.



Ridiculous – holding companies hostage to frivolous actions.






Saaaaad pathtic winker!


Whingeing Chancer

Excellent! I can stop bogus whiplash actions and go back to fleecing small employers with my dubious and undeserving unfair dismissal claims. £5,000 nuisance value. Quids in!



Ha ha. They are just thinking about their own wallets again, under the pretence of “access to justice”. The ET is a forum for trouble makers and rubbish claims.



Luv u Katie, luv ur work.


Corbyn. Symphathiser

I am thrilled that the Supreme Court, in its wisdom, has struck down this appalling barrier to justice. A victory for workers everywhere!


Justice is not blind, it's partially sighted

I am incredibly happy with this. Having worked pro bono for a number of years, I have seen countless claims, with a real prospect of success, fail because of these fees. Often it is those who are in low paying, low security jobs that suffer at the hands of unscrupulous employers, or simply employers who are too lazy to make sure they follow the rules.

Many of them can’t afford to take the risk in forking out that sort of money. I agree there should be some fees, but the current level is ridiculous. This decision has been a long time coming, and hopefully now we will begin to see the law actually serving its purpose and protecting those who are perhaps in a more vulnerable position.



We won our case 15 months ago and my wife got a 5 figure payment will we be getting our 1200 back or will it only apply to people who did not win the case? Thanks


Justice is not blind, it's partially sighted

Dominic Raab said that fees will be reimbursed dating back to 2013 but there has been no proposal about how this will be implemented, and if there will be any limitations. Also, this is not really the place to come for any advice. You should wait for further announcements from the government then have a chat with a solicitor.



Wonder if it will apply to Immigration Tribunals as well? At the moment, if you win your appeal, there is no recourse to refund the onerous fees paid.



It really should do.



Net migration last year was 246,000.



Judge’s decision on fees at IAT.

Last line of every judgment is fee award Yes/No


Application Fee

In keeping with the Cobynist hysteria that controls present public discourse, I assume we should understand that the undertaking to repay all employment tribunal fees paid since 2013 was simply an aspiration?



My wife was unfairly dismissed 18 months ago after 12 years in her job. When a household is a wage down and you are working class 1200 is a big sum to find. We payed the 1200 on a credit card , could not afford a barrister as we were quoted between 1800 and 2700 . We represented ourselves and fortunately truth won the day and she got a 5 figure sum and found a better job in the same sector 4 months later. Lots in our position could not raise 1200 yesterday a good day for justice



Great result. Looking forward to my refund. Let’s hope access to justice in the ET will be furthered by caps on the amount of fees employment lawyers can charge & the taxation of compensation with no deduction of such fees.


Nihil novi

Hardly a revolutionary decision. The Canadian Supreme Court reached the same result 3 years on high fees in family court matters: Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia v. British Columbia (Attorney General), 2014 SCC 59.



I do wonder whether the euphoric reaction to this Judgment is more about solicitors getting a big influx of work than it is truly about access to justice. Deny it all you want.


Bfd BoB

Society as it is, probably both.


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