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Legal costs are not automatically awarded by the tribunal to either party following a case. However, the employment tribunal does have the discretion to make a costs order pursuant to rules 74 to 84 of the Tribunal Rules 2013. 

Costs may be awarded against a party on the following grounds: 

  • a party (or that party’s representative) has acted vexatiously, abusively, disruptively or otherwise unreasonably in the bringing or conducting of proceedings(or part thereof) — rule 76(1)(a)  
  • a claim or response had no reasonable prospect of success — rule 76(1)(b) 
  • a hearing has been postponed or adjourned on the application of a party made less than seven days before the date on which the relevant hearing begins — rule 76(1)(c)  
  • a party has breached an order or Practice Direction or where a hearing has been postponed or adjourned on the application of a party — rule 76(2) 
  • a final hearing in unfair dismissal proceedings is postponed or adjourned in circumstances where (a) the claimant has expressed a wish to be reinstated or re-engaged that has been communicated to the respondent not less than seven days before the hearing, and (b) the postponement or adjournment was caused by the respondent’s failure, without a special reason, to adduce reasonable evidence as to the availability of the job from which the claimant was dismissed or of comparable or suitable employment — rule 76(3).  
  • the employment tribunal decides an allegation or argument for substantially the reasons given in an earlier deposit order — rule 39(5). 

The above is a non-exhaustive list of the circumstances in which a costs order (of variations thereof) may be made. For further information please see advice as necessary. 

A party may apply for a costs order up to 28 days after the date on which the judgment finally determining the proceedings was sent to the parties (rule 77). 

Usually preparatory steps to secure a party’s position in respect of costs begins early on in proceedings using carefully worded costs warning letters as well as applications to the tribunal for strike out and/or a deposit order. Several members of our team have received full costs awards on behalf of their clients and have also successfully defended costs applications. 

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