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Thursday 18th
posted by Conrad Landin in Britain

CAMPAIGNERS swore they would see ministers in the Court of Appeal after the High Court threw out a challenge to employment tribunal fees yesterday.

Public-sector union Unison argued that the Con-Dems’ new fees regime breached EU legal principles and rendered employment rights “illusory.”

The union also argued that imposing fees had a disproportionate impact on women, ethnic minorities and disabled people.

But top judges rejected the claims and said that fees were “justified and proportionate.”

Lord Justice Elias told the court: “I have no doubt that each of the objectives relied upon in this case is a legitimate one and that the scheme taken over all, particularly having regard to the arrangements designed to relieve the poorest from the obligation to pay, is justified and proportionate to any discriminatory effect.

“Moreover, the costs are recoverable, in general at least, if the claim succeeds.”

But Unison was granted permission yesterday to appeal the ruling.

It had already been given leave to appeal an earlier High Court decision over tribunal fees, but that hearing was postponed after new evidence showed a huge drop in tribunal claims, leading to Unison’s second complaint to the High Court.

Unison will ask for the two appeals to be held together as soon as possible.

“The High Court’s decision is disappointing but we will fight on and do everything possible to ensure that these punitive fees introduced by the government are abolished,” said Unison general secretary Dave Prentis.

“Today’s ruling is a real missed opportunity to ensure that all workers can afford to bring an employment tribunal claim.

“Since the introduction of fees last year, thousands of workers have been priced out of justice and we must not let this continue to happen.”

Employment tribunal claims dropped by a whopping 72 per cent in the year after the fees were brought in.

The High Court conceded that the fall in the number of claims was “striking.”