The High Court has rejected the second challenge by Unison to the Employment Tribunal Fee Scheme introduced in the summer of 2013. The second application was made after the statistics were published showing the dramatic reduction in the number of claims. However, even the data was not sufficient to convince the Court that the scheme violated the EU principle of effectiveness or that it was unlawful discrimination.
The High Court felt that the scheme was not discriminatory as the first set of statistics showing that more women than men were affected had evened out. In any event, the Court found that even if the scheme was discriminatory, it was likely to be justified. It has three legitimate aims and the scheme as a whole taken together with the arrangements for remission was proportionate.
The Court felt that the statistics “demonstrated” that fees had a marked effect on people’s willingness to bring claims but that the stats did not prove that people are unable (compared with unwilling) to pay them. The Court left the door open for future claims by stating that there were no individuals before them able to demonstrate that they were unable to pay so that they could not say for sure whether potential Claimants were unable or unwilling to pay.
The High Court further gave leave to appeal so this may not be the end of this saga yet.