Tribunal costs awards: Employer recoups record £432,000 in legal costs

Tribunal costs awards: Employer recoups record £432,000 in legal costs's Tags

Tags related to this article

Tribunal costs awards: Employer recoups record £432,000 in legal costs

Published 5 November 2020

An employment tribunal has made what is believed to be the highest ever costs award against a “duplicitous” ex-employee

THE FACTS

Mr Tan was employed by Copthorne Hotels Limited. Copthorne Hotels dismissed him in 2017, giving redundancy as the reason for his dismissal.

Mr Tan brought claims of unfair dismissal, automatic unfair dismissal, age discrimination, race discrimination, discrimination because of sexual orientation, victimisation, harassment, whistleblowing detriment and unlawful deductions from wages. He withdrew several of these claims before the hearing.

The employment tribunal found that redundancy was the genuine reason for the termination of Mr Tan’s employment, and that a fair procedure had been followed. It dismissed all his other claims too.

During his employment, Mr Tan had made covert recordings of conversations with other employees. By his own admission, there were tens of thousands of hours of recordings. These included recordings of peers, senior and junior employees, and of the company’s OH doctor. The employment tribunal described his behaviour as “duplicitous” and “underhand”, and held that the covert recordings (had Copthorne Hotels known about them) would have completely eroded any trust and confidence, so that Mr Tan would have been dismissed in any event had Copthorne found out about the recordings.

Mr Tan’s witness statement was 61 pages long, and the employment tribunal bundles ran to over 3,000 pages. Mr Tan introduced 17 comparators for his claim of discriminatory pay, which the employment tribunal described as a “fishing expedition”. The employment tribunal also held that he had a “scattergun approach”, introducing multiple causes of action that he believed to be behind the redundancy. Elements of his claim were described as “speculative”.

The employer was awarded a total sum of £432,000 against Mr Tan. This is believed to be the largest costs award made by an employment tribunal. However, the employment tribunal judgment does not give reasons for the level of the award, so it is unclear which elements of Mr Tan’s conduct contributed to the amount of the costs award.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR EMPLOYERS?

Unfortunately for employers, employment tribunal cost awards are rare, and awards at anything like this level will be almost unheard of. However, this case shows that, at least theoretically, high cost awards may be made against vexatious litigants.

[Mr CH Tan and Copthorne Hotels Ltd]

Authors

Zoë Wigan

Zoë Wigan

London - Walbrook

+44 (0)20 7894 6564

Ceri Fuller

Ceri Fuller

London - Walbrook

+44 (0)20 7894 6583

Hilary Larter

Hilary Larter

Leeds

+44 (0)113 251 4710

< Back to articles