Since the abolition of Tribunal fees for bringing a claim against an employer or former employer, the Tribunal have seen steady increases in the number of claims being brought. To some extent this is no surprise.
Even if a Claimant ultimately loses their claim, it is very rare that Claimants will have to pay the costs of the opponent (the employer or formal employer), however, there are certain occasions where the employer can do so or put the Claimant at risk.
There are a number of options:-
A Deposit Order is an Order whereby the Tribunal will order the Claimant to pay an amount which does not exceed £1,000 where the Tribunal believes that the case or a part of it has “little reasonable prospects of success”. This is a test which will be determined by the facts of the case and will be dealt with at a preliminary hearing.
Costs Orders are made on application of the party where they believe that the claim has no reasonable prospects of success, the claim has been brought vexatiously or how the proceedings have been conducted. A preparation order is an order which enables an order to be made against a party who is not represented for their time of dealing with the matter.
Wasted costs orders are where the party who seeks their costs states that they have incurred as a result of any improper, unreasonable act or omission on the part of the party or their legal representative.
A recent example of this is the case of Mrs Panton –v- Birmingham City Council and the Governing Body of Holte School. The Claimant brought a number of claims including direct racial discrimination, harassment, victimisation and detriment under the Human Rights Act. All claims were dismissed. Following the dismissal of her claim, the Respondents applied to the Tribunal for costs orders and were successful and the Claimant has been ordered to pay in excess of £38,600.
It is very rare for Tribunals to award costs or impose deposit orders against parties, but it is something to beware of particularly for unrepresented Claimants who make a decision to submit a claim which may have little or no merit.
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T: 0151 556 1975