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In a recent case, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has upheld an employment tribunal’s decision to award costs against a claimant (in this case an employee), despite the claimant’s current inability to pay.  This is based on the conclusion that the claimant may be able to pay the costs award in the future.

What is a costs award?

A costs award of up to £20,000 can be made by the tribunal in instances where a person (in this case the claimant) or their representative disrupts proceedings or behaves abusively or unreasonably during a tribunal.

When making a costs award, the tribunal is not obliged to take a person’s means to pay into consideration, but can use its discretion as long as there is “a realistic prospect that the [party] might at some point in the future be able to afford to pay.”

Instances where costs awards can be made may include a claimant making false claims and fabricating allegations, which not only waste time but also result in an increase of costs for dealing with the claims, by the claimant’s employer.

In this case, the claimant had increased her employer’s costs of dealing with her case by approximately £35,000 by bringing a false race discrimination claim and untenable unfair dismissal claim against her employer.  As a result, the tribunal made a costs award of £10,000 against her, despite the fact that she was in debt by £600 and had no immediate means to pay the costs.

Employment tribunals

If you are involved in a dispute with your employer, which might progress to an employment tribunal, our expert employment lawyers can help.  We have many years of experience in dealing with complex disputes and disagreements between employers and employees and will be able to support you throughout the entire process.

Bray & Bray have three main offices across Leicestershire, feel free to phone or pop in to talk to our solicitors.