Employment tribunal makes record costs award
An employment tribunal has made a costs award of £432,000 – including £111,000 for the costs of the costs proceedings, on the indemnity basis – believed to be one of the largest ever made in the jurisdiction.
It was awarded to Millennium and Copthorne Hotels following dismissal of a claim brought by its former senior vice-president for procurement, which the tribunal held he pursued unreasonably. In the substantive ruling, the tribunal found Chee Hwee Tan to have been “duplicitous” and acting in a way to undermine the trust and confidence between the two parties.
According to the company’s solicitors, Royds Withy King, the size of the costs award “reflects the extraordinary lengths Mr Tan went to over a prolonged period of time to wrongly implicate senior executives, that extended to over 3,000 pages of documents before the tribunal and which included numerous covert recordings of staff”.
Partner David Israel said that, when employment tribunals made costs orders, the average award was £2,400. “This was quite clearly a vexatious claim with no grounding in reality. Mr Tan was given plenty of opportunity to withdraw his claim yet chose to proceed and attempt to manipulate the system in the full knowledge that he would lose.”
Court outlines balancing exercise for ordering litigant in person to file costs budget
The court has to consider whether there is a significant benefit to the other party of ordering litigants in person (LiPs) to file costs budgets, weighed against the difficulties faced by LiPs in seeking to estimate their costs realistically, a judge has ruled.
According to a Lawtel report of CJ and LK Perk Partnership v Royal Bank of Scotland, Judge Mark Pelling QC, sitting in the Commercial Court, the claimants were litigants in person assisted by direct access counsel.
Seeking a budget, the defendant argued that this was not a typical case where the LiPs would be unrepresented for all or most of the case process, while the costs incurred by the claimants were significant – the costs for one of the applications in the proceedings were some £87,000.
The claimants submitted that the relationship between a direct access barrister and client was different from a conventional solicitor and client relationship, as direct access barristers dipped in and out of cases.
The Lawtel report recorded: “A costs budget would assist in any ultimate settlement by providing added visibility as to the costs position, but that had to be balanced against the fact that, as part of the settlement process, the defendants could seek a costs estimate from the claimants as part of the exchange of information leading to mediation.
“It was accepted that there would be much less predictability for costs figures available to a litigant in person when preparing a costs budget. The question was whether there was a significant benefit to the defendant in the filing of a costs budget by the claimants when weighed against the difficulties faced by litigants in person in seeking to estimate the costs necessary to be inserted into the budget in a way which made the figures realistic.
“It was not appropriate to direct the claimants to file a costs budget in the instant case as the costs estimates relating to disclosure and witness statements were so unpredictable.”