EAT upholds costs award of £87,000 against unrepresented claimant

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The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has upheld an employment tribunal’s decision to make a costs award of around £87,000 against an unrepresented claimant of limited means, despite the fact that no deposit order had been made and no costs warning had been issued (Vaughan v London Borough of Lewisham).

Addleshaw Goddard reported on this case earlier in the year, following the EAT’s decision to uphold an employment tribunal’s refusal to allow the claimant to admit covert recordings during the proceedings on the basis that she was unable to demonstrate why they were relevant. More recently, the EAT has considered the second part of the claimant’s appeal against the employment tribunal’s decision – the decision to make a costs award against her of around £87,000.

Generally, costs do not ‘follow the event’ in employment tribunals (i.e. the losing party does not normally pay the winning party’s costs). However, employment tribunals do have the discretion to make costs awards where, in their opinion, a party has acted vexatiously, abusively, disruptively or otherwise unreasonably in the proceedings, or where the party’s case is misconceived (which includes a party ‘having no reasonable prospect of success’). If an employment tribunal decides to exercise this discretion, they may have regard to that party’s ability to pay…

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