As we enter a recession, we have been here before, and a key question is what did we learn and how can we benefit from that learning?
Until the Employment Tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunals Fees Order 2013 came into force in 2013, a claimant could bring proceedings without paying any fees. The Fees Order came into force in an effort to deter unmeritorious claims and allay the burden on taxpayers.
The appeal in the above case arose out of proceedings for judicial review, in which the appellant, Unison, argued that the Fees Order was unlawful because the prescribed fees restrict access to justice, frustrate the operation of Parliamentary legislation granting employment rights, and discriminate unlawfully against women and other protected groups.
In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court has allowed the appeal. The Supreme Court held that the Fees Order is unlawful under both domestic and EU law because the fees prevent access to justice. The Supreme Court found that fees were most frequently cited as the reason for not submitting a claim and that where households on low-to-middle incomes can only afford fees by forgoing an acceptable standard of living, the fees cannot be regarded as affordable.
The Court further found that the Fees Order is unlawful because it contravenes the guarantee of an effective remedy before a tribunal under EU law, as it imposes disproportionate limitations on the enforcement of EU employment rights.
Finally, the Court held that the Fees Order is indirectly discriminatory under the Equality Act 2010 because a higher proportion of women bring type B rather than type A claims, and the higher fees under type B claims, therefore, put women at a particular disadvantage.
The Court could not find a correlation between the higher fees and the merits of a case and that meritorious and unmeritorious claims could be deterred by the higher fees.
The ruling means that the Fees Order has been quashed. The Government will be forced to repay approximately £27million to individuals who have paid tribunal fees since 2013. There won’t be recourse for employers who have paid employees fees as part of the settlement of claims, but, where unsuccessful Employers have been ordered to pay fees, they can expect to recover them. This will be a challenging job to administer.
Given that the Labour party manifesto proposed to abolish fees, politically, it may prove challenging for the Government to get any revised approach to Tribunal fees through Parliament and therefore this may be the last we see of Tribunal fees for at least this Parliament. Employers can expect to see an increase in Tribunal claims on the back of this decision. We consider the reduction in claims since 2013 was also influenced by the move to needing two years’ service to bring an unfair dismissal claim and, as a result, we don’t expect claims to return to 2013 levels.
It is anticipated that as lockdown restrictions ease, and particularly with children and young adults returning to education, cases of meningitis will start to rise.
As we continue to emerge from lockdown measures and deal with local measures and the short and long term economic impact of Covid-19, local authorities will need to re-assess how services will be delivered for years to come.
The Government first announced plans for a shared ownership right to buy in October 2019. At the time the sector raised concerns about the impact the plans would have on housing associations ability to borrow. An election and a pandemic later the Government announced, during the CIH Housing Festival last week, the return of the right to shared ownership as part of its Affordable Homes Programme (AHP).
Two final pieces of the possession jigsaw have been published on 15 September 2020. Mr Justice Knowles’ working group on possession proceedings has issued its guidance on the “overall arrangements” for possession proceedings.
One change proposed by the Building Safety Bill is the introduction of a duty holder regime, which will see statutory responsibility for the safety of higher risk buildings placed on key individuals
Throughout this pandemic, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been publishing various “Statements on Coronavirus” (Statements) which provide guidance on consumer rights during this time.
A recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the UK means new measures are being put in place in an effort to reduce the risk of a second wave. Whilst the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt, it is important to remain focused on the sector’s road to recovery.
Sometimes half an hour at a conference gives you the reality that has been staring you in the face all along. That was my experience watching “Change is on the Horizon”
Following our recent e-briefing on Possession Notices, Helen Tucker and Emilie Pownall from our housing litigation team discuss the impact of the changes on social landlords.
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