Growing flexibility towards costs in Tribunals

07 Mar 2011

Costs in Employment Tribunal claims are very rare and can only be awarded on limited grounds, such as the vexatious or unreasonable behaviour of a party; however, Tribunals appear to be extending the interpretation of these limitations so that cost orders may become more common in the future.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) has handed down its judgment in the case of G4S Security Services (UK) v Mr A Rondeau. In this case, the Claimant had declined a settlement offer of £30,000 made by the Respondent in May 2009; the offer was then put forward again in September 2009 and was again declined. No counter-offer was suggested by the Claimant. The Claimant then accepted the offer of £30,000 at the doors of the Tribunal.

The Claimant’s conduct in accepting an offer at the Tribunal door, which had been on the table for five months, was deemed unreasonable by the Tribunal and the Claimant was ordered to pay £3,420 towards the Respondent’s costs.

Whilst it is doubtful that £3,420 would have covered the Respondent’s costs for the five month period between its offer and the Hearing, the Tribunal’s decision, which was upheld on appeal, should help deter Claimants from such obstinacy in the future.