Tribunal costs – Tan v Copthorne Hotels

Unlike in most civil litigation, in Employment Tribunals the victor does not automatically obtain a costs award and it is rare for a costs order to be made against the losing party unless certain categories of poor conduct can be established in the  bringing or the conducting of the Employment Tribunal litigation.  In Tan v Copthorne Hotels however the Tribunal awarded costs against the Claimant of £432,000.  Before MILS members get excited, note that the Claimant here was a very senior employee and Vice President of a large hotel group.  

On the facts of the case, he was put at risk of redundancy legitimately by the employer and then raised numerous allegations which would constitute automatically unfair dismissal and discrimination.  It transpired in the case that he had covertly recorded extensive meetings with colleagues.  The Tribunal were particularly unimpressed with the Claimant’s conduct and his character in making the recordings.  It was also significant that the Claimant hadn’t withdrawn the claims despite various opportunities to do so and had been required to pay Deposit Orders (these are orders issued by the Tribunal, if the claim is particularly weak, for the claim to continue).  

The facts are therefore unusual.  However, employers might well try to rely on the case in future applications for costs.