In November 2023 Julie Duane represented the Respondent, a Local Authority, in its application for costs of almost £200,000 against a Claimant.
Following a separate complex and multi-faceted final hearing where all of C’s claims failed, the Respondent made an application to the Tribunal in accordance with Rule 76(1)(a) and (b) and Rule 78 of the Employment Tribunals Rules of Procedure 2013. The Tribunal Judgment contained a number of key findings of fact pertaining to the merits of the claims and also to the conduct of the Claimant during the litigation. This conduct had inexplicably caused unnecessary cost to the Respondent in defending, and ultimately defeating, the claims.
Resultant from the Respondent’s application for costs, the Tribunal found that a detailed assessment as to costs, with such costs awarded on an indemnity basis, should be determined by a County Court, in addition to an interim payment in the sum of £20,000 to be paid on account. The rationale for those findings included, but were not limited to, the fact that C had:
The Tribunal, in obiter, remarked that that if the Tribunal had the power to order payments on account of costs in excess of £20,000, then the amount it would have awarded against the Claimant would be for a sum in excess of £100,000.
Whilst costs are often perceived as “the exception and not the rule” in Employment Tribunal proceedings, it is perhaps more apt to term Orders as to costs as being unusual as opposed to being exceptional. Indeed, where the necessary gateway for costs has been accessed, it is then for the Tribunal to determine whether it should exercise its wide discretion to award costs in contemplation of a number of factors. In this particular case the repeated and pervasive effects of C’s conduct, in conjunction with his pursuit of a number of non-meritorious claims, demonstrates how the threshold for costs can be unlocked and, as such, significant (and interim) costs then awarded.
Written by Oliver Edwards