The normal rule
The courts usually deal with costs differently[/caption] If you spend money on legal representation in the Employment Tribunal, you can’t normally recover your legal fees from the other side, even if you win. This can come as a surprise to clients since it goes against the well-known principle usually applied in the Courts, where the loser pays the winner’s costs. In addition, there have been a couple of recent changes to the costs rules so it seems appropriate to write a blog that outlines the basics. Exceptions to the rule As with many areas of law there are several exceptions to the rule, the most common being that costs may be awarded if the Employment Tribunal takes the view that a party or their representative has: – acted vexatiously, abusively, disruptively, or otherwise unreasonably, or – the bringing or conducting of proceedings has been misconceived. Conduct can be vexatious “if an employee brings a hopeless claim not with any expectation of recovering compensation but out of spite to harass his employers or for some other improper motive“. “Misconceived” is usually taken to mean that the claim has no reasonable prospect of success.
Consider the costs consequences of any dispute[/caption] This is an important provision since it provides a disincentive for disgruntled employees to waste their employer’s time and money by bringing unmerited claims. If appropriate the employer’s lawyer will often warn the employee that their claim is misconceived and invite them to withdraw it. If they refuse and then go on to lose the claim the employer will then ask the judge for an order that the employee pays its legal fees, and the earlier warning will be brought to the judge’s attention. Recent changes As part of its recent review of employment legislation the Government has recently increased the maximum amount of costs that can be awarded from £10,000 to £20,000 for claims issued on or after 6th April 2012. This can be welcomed by employers since the threat of a higher costs award should make vexatious litigants think twice before starting a claim. At the same time employers have to ensure that their defence of the case is handled properly to avoid the risk of being ordered to pay the employee’s costs. Key points to note Always consider the costs position at the outset of any dispute as it can have a real impact upon your strategy. We can help you identify if there is a threat of costs or if the case you are facing is one where costs warnings should be put to the employee. If you require assistance with any HR issues or the defence of a Tribunal claim then please contact one of our specialist employment lawyers.
The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023, creates a statutory right for qualifying workers to request a more predictable pattern of work. This right works similarly in a few ways to the right to request a more flexible working pattern.
In the news this week has been the speculation over Manchester United’s decision in respect of their player, Mason Greenwood. Greenwood was charged with rape and assault, but the charges – which he denies – were dropped back in February. We learnt yesterday that Greenwood’s time with the…
The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill has now completed its journey through parliament and the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 is currently awaiting Royal Assent. What is changing?
Fans of Radio 4’s The Archers will be aware that Brian has sacked Stella as the manager of Home Farm. The background is that Stella spent £150,000 on a new seed drill without Brian’s approval so he has decided to treat the matter as gross misconduct and dismiss her with immediate effect. Stella has taken advice and has been told that she has a good claim of unfair dismissal and possibly sex discrimination too (apparently on the basis that so few farm managers are women). Leaving aside for one moment the fact that The Archers is a work of fiction, does Stella have a claim?