No power for tribunal to award fees paid by union
Solicitor, Veale Wasbrough Vizards
In Goldwater and ors v Sellafield Ltd, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has determined that, where tribunal fees have been paid by an employee's union rather than the employee themselves, it does not have the power to order the respondent to refund those fees.
The EAT stated that the wording in the 34(2A) of the Employment Appeal Tribunal Rules 1993 clearly limits costs orders against respondents to fees paid direct by the employee. As such, in this case the EAT was not able to grant the appellant employee a costs order for the issue fee and hearing fee.
Many claims in the employment tribunals and at the EAT are currently funded by trade unions. This ruling may therefore impact upon how claims are funded in the future, and potentially how affordable the tribunal process is for potential Claimants.
It remains to be seen if funding will still be as readily available from trade unions now fees are no longer recoverable if paid by unions.
This decision potentially impacts upon what support unions are able to offer members and how that support is offered. However, employers should be aware that this decision does not affect the general power for the Tribunal and EAT to require unsuccessful respondents to repay the Tribunal fees incurred by successful claimants during the litigation process.
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