Costs in Employment Tribunals

In the case of Chadburn v Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital NHS Foundation and another the tribunal had to consider whether they should award costs against a claimant that had acted unreasonably when she made-up claims of discrimination against her employer. The tribunal decided to make a costs award against the claimant in the sum of £10,000.

The employment appeal tribunal upheld the decision of the tribunal despite the claimant having limited money to pay the costs. This was because the tribunal believed that the claimant’s financial position was likely to get better.

It is unusual for employment tribunals to make costs orders against parties as the general rule is that each party must bear its own costs (fees, charges and disbursements incurred). This is unlike the civil courts where the successful party has to pay the reasonable costs of the unsuccessful party.

This case does however remind us that the employment tribunal has a wide discretion to make a costs award if it believes a party has conducted itself in a particular way.

It also provides some clarity in an area where the tribunals have a very wide discretion and acts as a warning to claimants about the repercussions of lying about/ exaggerating their claims.

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