In a recent judgement of the Employment Appeal Tribunal (‘EAT’) it was decided that a claimant who accepted a settlement offer on the morning before the case was due to start, but had rejected the exact same settlement offer some months earlier, had acted unreasonably. The EAT was therefore justified in awarding costs to the other side.
This shows that the Employment Tribunals will consider awarding costs against claimants whose behaviour is considered unreasonable, such as where claimants do not accept initial reasonable offers to settle and/or fail to make reasonable counter-offers. The government’s current consultation into dealing with workplace disputes and possible reform of the Employment Tribunals considers the issue of costs in greater detail and it is hoped that any resultant changes to the Employment Tribunal system will augment their powers with a view to countering misconceived and vexatious claims. The ARC (the Association of Recruitment Consultancies) is pressing hard in this area and is participating in this consultation.
In the conclusion to this particular case (G4S Services v Rondeau) the EAT observed that the making and considering of offers to settle was “part and parcel of any litigation proceedings”.