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6 June 2013
Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT)
Underhill J, Mr B Beynon and Mr J R Rivers CBE
Tribunals may (but do not have to) take into account the ability of a party to pay when deciding whether to make a costs award. But the fact that a party will be unable to pay is only a factor: it does not prevent a tribunal from making the award.
V made 9 separate tribunal applications against numerous respondents. Three of those applications were heard at a 21-day hearing. All claims were dismissed. The tribunal found the claims were misconceived; V had unreasonably rejected obvious non-discriminatory explanations for the actions she complained about, asserting without evidence to substantiate it, a conspiracy against her. The council's costs were over £200,000. The tribunal ordered V to pay one third of the council's costs.
V appealed, pointing out that the council had not previously sought a deposit from her; no warning that she might have to pay costs had been given; and that she would never be able to pay the amount of the costs award.
The EAT upheld the tribunal's conclusion. Respondents do not have to apply for deposit orders or issue costs warnings to obtain a costs order; and the tribunal was entitled to conclude that V might at some stage in the future be able to pay.
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