Welcome back to Case of the Week. Last week we looked at constructive dismissal and this week we have two cases for you. The first concerns serial litigators, a very rare topic since the introduction of court fees and the second is about religion/belief discrimination.
The question from this case is:
Can a serial litigator be prevented from making future claims?
Ms Harrold, the Claimant, was an experienced nurse whose attitude caused problems for the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the Respondent. The Claimant was a serial litigator who had brought fifteen claims against the Respondent in the space of four years. Each of these claims had been dismissed, often dismissed for being totally without merit.
Following the dismissal of the Claimant’s fifteenth claim the Respondent applied for a civil restraining order preventing the Claimant from bringing further claims against them, unless she had the permission of a judge.
When making such a decision, the court must decide whether limiting the Claimant’s right to bring claims is more important than, the cost to the Claimant of having lost so many claims, the cost to the Respondent of having to defend such claims, the strain on the resources of the ET in having to deal with such claims and the implications of the strain on other litigants.
The restraining order was granted and the Claimant was prevented from bringing claims against the Respondent for two years.
Today’s lesson is that employers do have some defence against serial litigators. Any litigant who continues to bring claims that are vindictive, frivolous or otherwise without merit can be barred from bringing future claims. Another, more practical, approach could be to seek a costs award against a litigant who makes a baseless claim.
As stated before this is a rather rare topic now that court fees have been introduced because the fees were designed to discourage such claims. However, there are two ways litigants can get round court fees, legal expenses insurance and fee remission.
In this case insurance is unlikely as the case has to have prospects of success to gain cover but remission is possible providing the Claimant meets the requirements of being on a state benefit, or, having less than £3,000.00 in savings and a monthly income less than £1,085.00.