Costs in Employment Tribunals

Recently there appears to have been a change in favour of employers when tribunals are looking at the award of costs in employment tribunal cases. The cost of defending employment tribunal cases is a common source of complaint and annoyance among employers as in most cases, employers cannot recover their legal costs even if they win. A tribunal will only order a party to pay some or all of the other parties costs, if it believes that party has acted vexatiously, abusively, disruptively or unreasonably in bringing or conducting the proceedings. This is a tough test to satisfy. With some careful handling of settlement negotiations, employers may now have more chance in recovering some costs. As was the case in a recent employment appeal tribunal decision in which an employee of a large supermarket chain was penalised in costs by the tribunal after bringing a claim which had little or no prospect of success. The former employee was found to have behaved unreasonably in refusing offers of settlement made by the employer throughout the proceedings and it seems clear from the judgement in that tribunal that tribunals will be encouraged to make cost awards where employees in the future act either unreasonably, or the claim presented to the tribunal has little prospect of success from the outset. For further information call Ian Furness on 01924 443900.