24 April 2015: Costs Awards in Employment Tribunal proceedings:
In Chadburn v Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital NHS Foundation Trust reported this week, the EAT upheld a costs award of £10,000 against Mrs Chadburn, despite her current inability to pay it.
The costs award had been made because Mrs Chadburn had brought a number of false race discrimination claims against the Trust which she had fabricated in order to pursue claims of harassment within the tribunal’s jurisdiction.
Mrs Chadburn appealed the award of costs, arguing that she did not have the means to pay it. However the EAT considered that Mrs Chadburn was 39 years old and her financial situation would improve in the future.
Awards of costs in the Employment Tribunal are unusual, but not unheard of and can be awarded when a party has behaved in a vexatious, abusive, disruptive or unreasonable manner, or when it has no reasonable prospect of success.
In Topic v Hollyland in 2012, the EAT upheld a decision to award costs against the Claimant because her claim was ‘misconceived’ even though Ms Topic genuinely believed that she had suffered discrimination. In that case too, the costs award was significant and her financial means were very limited.
Whilst employers might be cheered by the decision in Chadburn, an award of costs is one thing, actually recovering the money is quite another.
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