Fighting for rights – UNISON v the Lord Chancellor (the tribunal fees case)

A series of podcasts looking at three recent cases that had a material impact on freedom, rights and our democracy - for better or worse.
Nick Denys and Shantha David

Employment tribunal fees of over £1,000 were introduced during July 2013.

This led to steep decline in the number of cases going to employment tribunals, but the government dismissed the ever-increasing evidence that the fees were stopping people from enforcing their rights.

UNISON decided to challenge the government’s decision to introduce fees in the courts. Over four years UNISON’s challenge lost in every court the case was heard in, until the Supreme Court was asked to define the importance of access to justice.

This podcast explores UNISON’s fight for rights and what the Supreme Court’s judgment means for access to justice.


Shantha David is a UNISON legal officer. Shantha has won many battles that have improved the situation for millions of workers, including the one featured in this podcast. She has won the Liberty Human Rights Lawyer (2017) and the Halsbury Rule of Law Award (2018), and this year the Lawyer Magazine named her as one of the top 100 lawyers in the UK.

Nick Denys is the policy adviser for employment and company law at the Law Society.

Listen to the podcast:

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