Another Friday and to see you through the melting heat and into the garden for a glass or bottle of vino we have another case law update for you. It seems that the Tribunal is churning out a lot of procedural cases over the COVID epidemic. Last week’s case may have been expletive laden but it was largely a procedural case. This week’s case is much the same but unfortunately without all the juicy swear words.
There is no question this week, just a case study into commercial settlements and ACAS COT3 agreements.
Ms Pranczk, the Claimant, was employed by Hampshire Council, the Respondent, as a Night Care Assistant. The Claimant, who had been off on long term sickness, believed she was owed just under £70 in wages and £100 annual leave entitlement.
Prior to the hearing, the Respondent paid the money owed. However, the Claimant did not withdraw the claim and the case proceeded to a hearing. The Claimant did not attend the hearing, the Respondent did. The Respondent confirmed to the Employment Tribunal that the money owed had been paid. The ET dismissed the claim and made a costs award of £750 against the Claimant for unreasonably allowing the claim to proceed to hearing.
The Claimant appealed the decision to award costs and the Employment Appeal Tribunal allowed the appeal. The EAT held that the ET had not properly considered whether costs should be awarded and if so what the Claimant’s means were to pay such costs. The costs order was quashed.
The takeaway point:
The Claimant in this case commenced a case for under £175 in owed wages. The Respondent rightly paid this as it made more commercial sense than fighting the matter to hearing. However, the fact the claim was not withdrawn suggests that the amount was paid direct and the claim was not settled via ACAS COT3. If it had, the Claim would have been withdrawn.
By not taking this extra step, the Respondent then had to defend the claim and incur time and cost of complying with directions and attending the hearing. Neglecting to settle via COT3 caused both Hampshire Council and the Tribunal System to spend a disproportionate amount of resources on a trivial matter. As both institutions are taxpayer funded, it is literally a waste of everyone’s time and money to skip a COT3.
And in fairness to the Claimant she may well have not known that once the money was paid she had to do anything about notifying the Employment Tribunal.