Employment Tribunal makes £117k costs award

Last week the East London Employment Tribunal made the largest single costs award against an individual on record – Aidan Briggs acted for the successful Respondent.

As explored in our recent seminar on costs in the tribunals, the new Employment Tribunal Rules increased the Tribunals’ costs-awarding powers. Some saw this as an encouragement to Tribunals to sanction the unreasonable or vexatious conduct of claims by the award of costs, and the recent decision in Makanjuola v London Borough of Waltham Forest would support that view.

In June 2011 Dr Makanjuola presented claims against Waltham Forest for Unfair Dismissal, Race and Disability Discrimination, Whistle-Blowing, Harassment and Victimisation. A similar claim had been presented and dismissed in 1998. After several unsuccessful attempts to clarify his case in case management hearings and one aborted trial, the matter came before Employment Judge Ferris and two lay-members in May 2013. By the conclusion of trial there were 43 alleged acts of direct discrimination, 19 alleged detriments arising out of protected disclosures and seven alleged acts of direct disability discrimination.

The Tribunal dismissed the Claimant’s claims in their entirety. They found the Claimant to be “a clever and unscrupulous man”, “dishonest” and “a stranger to the truth”, who had repeatedly lied both during his employment and in his evidence to the Tribunal. The Claimant has appealed the substantive decision.

The Respondent local authority applied for its costs of defending the claim, which came to £117,110.73. At a hearing which the Claimant refused to attend, the Tribunal ordered the Claimant to pay the whole of the Respondent’s costs, to be subject to a detailed assessment.

From the published Employment Tribunal statistics, the largest single costs awards made in the years ending 2010, 2011 and 2012 were: £13,942, £83,000 and £36,466. It seems likely therefore that, subject to a hefty reduction by the SCCO, this is likely to be the largest ever award of costs in the Employment Tribunal.

Aidan Briggs acted for the successful local authority.

Article here

21st January 2014