The rules regarding costs in the Employment Tribunal are different to other Courts and Tribunals. To find out what the rules are at the Employment Tribunal, please read on.
What Are “Costs”?
In the Employment Tribunal, costs have a specific definition which is:
“Costs means fees, charges, disbursements or expenses incurred by or on behalf of the receiving party (including expenses that witnesses incur for the purpose of, or in connection with, attendance at a Tribunal hearing).”
Fees are usually those of a solicitor or representative who is acting on your behalf.
A disbursement is otherwise known as an ‘out of pocket expense’. It is a charge from a third party which you will usually pay through your solicitor. Disbursements can include barrister’s costs for their advice or representation at a hearing, other professional’s fees (for example Doctors’ Reports) and, potentially, administrative costs for requesting copy paperwork such as medical records.
Do I Have To Have Legal Representation At The Employment Tribunal?
Whilst we would always suggest you seek advice on your employment concerns prior to issuing your claim, there is no requirement for you to do so before, or at any stage during the Employment Tribunal process. You can represent yourself throughout the Employment Tribunal process and at any hearing. You do not have to have a solicitor or barrister to represent you.
What Costs Might I Incur In My Employment Tribunal Claim?
Currently, there is no fee to start a claim in the Employment Tribunal.
During your Employment Tribunal claim, you may incur costs such as:
- Solicitors fees
- Barristers fees
- Medical Expert reports
- Costs for obtaining medical records
- Witness expenses
- Travel expenses
Not every claim is the same, so you will not necessary incur all of the above costs. Some of the above costs may be unavoidable though, if you need to obtain copies of your medical records for example, you will incur the charge regardless of whether you are legally represented or not.
Can I Recover My Costs From My Employer?
The general position in the Employment Tribunal is each party is responsible for paying their own costs, regardless of whether your claim is successful or not.
As with all rules, there are exceptions. There are some limited circumstances where the Employment Tribunal has the discretion to award costs to a party. The Employment Tribunal can make a costs award of their own choice, or a party can make an application for costs to be awarded.
There are certain factors the Employment Tribunal will explore when considering whether to make a cost order which include:
- Whether a party or their representative has acted vexatiously, abusively, disruptively or otherwise unreasonably in bringing or conducting their case,
- The claim or response has no reasonable prospect of success,
- Whether a party is in breach of any order or practice direction, and
- Whether a party has applied to postpone or adjourn a hearing.
Even if you consider the other party is guilty of one or more of the above, it does not mean you will definitely be awarded your costs. It is merely something the Employment Tribunal will consider. Even if you are awarded your costs, it does not mean you will recover all of them, the amount is in the discretion of the Employment Tribunal Judge.
Please be aware, you do have to have incurred the costs to be able to ask for a cost order and you may be required to provide evidence for the amount you are claiming.
Can My Employer Recover Their Costs From Me?
It is possible you could be responsible for your employer’s costs as well as your own. The above factors the Employment Tribunal consider apply to both parties, not just the employer. Therefore, if you act unreasonably in proceedings, or your claim has no reasonable prospect of success, you could be faced with a costs order.
What Are The Chances Of Being Awarded Costs?
Recent data suggests in the year 2019 to 2020, only 177 cost awards were made by an Employment Tribunal. To put that into context, there were almost 104,000 claims started in the Employment Tribunal in the same period.
Unfortunately, it is extremely unlikely you will be awarded costs, even if you are successful in your claim.
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors Can Help You
If you are considering starting a claim in the Employment Tribunal, or have a question about potential costs, please call us on 01522 440512 for an initial free consultation. Alternatively, for more information about potential costs and funding options, please visit our website at https://lincslaw.co.uk/fees/employees/ .
Managing Director, Specialist Employment Solicitor
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors
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