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Record employment tribunal costs award

12 August 2011

Unlike litigation in the civil courts, costs orders in the employment tribunals are the exception rather than the rule. An employer successfully defending a claim against it can only recover its legal costs of doing so if it can show that the claimant behaved “vexatiously, abusively, disruptively or otherwise unreasonably” or that bringing the case was “misconceived.” In reality the employment tribunals award costs in only 0.2% of cases, and even then the level of award is often much lower than the legal costs incurred.

However, in a recent case an employment tribunal awarded costs of £100,000 against a former executive of Pertemps after she was unsuccessful in a sexual harassment case against her former employer. It is an encouraging example of an employment tribunal using a costs order in a case which, according to one newspaper, it found to be “vexatious, frivolous and [a waste of] the court’s time.”

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