The facts of this case involved a Claimant who was unsuccessful in claiming race discrimination against the Trust and another Respondent. The Tribunal held that the Claimant had invented the allegations. A Tribunal may, at its discretion, make a costs order where a party has acted vexatiously, abusively, disruptively or otherwise unreasonably in the bringing or conducting of proceedings. In this case, the Tribunal concluded that there had been unreasonable conduct on the part of Claimant as it was estimated that the invented allegations had resulted in approximately £35,000 of additional costs for the Trust.
The Claimant's position was that given her current inability to pay, and the fact that she had outstanding debts, a costs award was not appropriate. However, the Tribunal reached the view that at 39 years of age the Claimant had a long working life ahead of her, which would likely mean an improved financial position. The Tribunal was also conscious of impending divorce proceedings which could benefit her financially. The Claimant appealed against the costs award but the appeal was rejected by the Employment Appeal Tribunal. The EAT held that the Tribunal was entitled to take into account the likely employment situation of the Claimant going forward.
The Employment Tribunal statistics for 2013/2014 show that 889 costs awards were made. The median costs award was £1,000, with the highest costs award being £58,022. There has also been a general trend over the past few years towards an increasing number of costs awards being made (the 2013/2014 figure of 889 was up from 651 in 2012/2013).
The Employment Tribunal statistics for 2014/2015 are not due to be published for a number of months, but it will be interesting to see if this trend continues.
Further information on the 2013/2014 Employment Tribunal statistics can be accessed in our blog here.