Skip to main content
Home / News and Insights / Blogs / Employment Law / 47: Costs award upheld against an unrepresented claimant who failed to particularise her case
Bircham Dyson Bell (BDB) LLP and Pitmans LLP merged on 1 December 2018 to become BDB Pitmans LLP. More details can be found here
23 January 2017

47: Costs award upheld against an unrepresented claimant who failed to particularise her case

Employment Tribunals have the discretion to make a costs order where a party has acted vexatiously, abusively, disruptively or otherwise unreasonably in bringing or conducting proceedings. In Liddington v 2gether NHS Foundation Trust, the EAT had to consider whether to uphold an Employment Tribunal’s decision to make a costs order against a litigant in person after she failed to properly particularise her claims.

Ms Liddington was employed by the Trust as a community practitioner. She claimed that she had made a safeguarding referral relating to a patient in a private care home that amounted to a protected disclosure, after which she was subjected to a number of detriments and eventually dismissed. Ms Liddington brought various Tribunal claims including unfair dismissal, religious discrimination, victimisation and whistleblowing. She represented herself throughout.

During the proceedings, Ms Liddington was advised by three Employment Judges during a number of preliminary hearings that her claims were not adequately particularised. Most crucially, she had failed to provide the dates of some of the acts she relied on for her victimisation claim, and to identify the specific detriments she was relying on. This was important as it appeared that some of the alleged acts of detriment pre-dated her safeguarding referral. Eventually the Tribunal ordered that Ms Liddington pay the Trust’s costs for a wasted preliminary hearing because she had unreasonably failed to provide the required information.

Upholding this decision, the EAT noted that the Tribunal had taken into account the lower standards which should be applied to a litigant in person and had used lay person’s terms when asking her to provide the missing details. The court also noted that the Tribunal had not made its costs order on the basis that Ms Liddington was being deliberately obstructive. The court’s decision was based on her unreasonable lack of preparation for the preliminary hearing which amounted to unreasonable conduct justifying a costs award.

Tribunals are allowed to give additional support to litigants in person in light of the ‘overriding objective’ of dealing with cases justly which includes, as far as possible, ensuring that the parties are on an equal footing. As this case illustrates, however, there are limits to this support. Unrepresented claimants are expected to conduct proceedings in a reasonable manner and to comply with case management orders. Nevertheless it is still relatively unusual for an Employment Tribunal to make a costs order for an employer’s costs against an employee.

Related Articles

London and Cambridge Offices

London Westminster
50 Broadway, London
SW1H 0BL

London City
107 Cheapside, London
EC2V 6DN

Cambridge
51 Hills Road, Cambridge
CB2 1NT

Reading and Southampton Offices

Reading, Castle Street
47 Castle Street Berkshire,
Reading RG1 7SR

Reading, The Anchorage
34 Bridge Street Berkshire,
Reading RG1 2LU

Southampton, The Avenue
46 The Avenue Southampton
Southampton SO17 1AX

Follow us

  • Pay my invoice
  • Lexcel
  • CYBER ESSENTIALS PLUS

© BDB Pitmans 2019. 50 Broadway, London, SW1H 0BL - T +44 (0)345 222 9222