As we have blogged on before, costs awards in Tribunals are extremely rare events, but they are events that are becoming more common rather than less common.
Costs awards against representatives based on the representative’s conduct of the case are as rare as hens teeth. However in the case recently reported by the EAT, the firm of Solicitors was ordered to pay part of the opposing side’s legal costs based on:
1. Lack of preparation: A statement of one key witness ran to 4 sentences.
2. Lack of disclosure: Relevant documents were not disclosed.
3. Cross examination: This was described as “prolix” (which did have me reaching for my dictionary)but means long winded and verbose. In particular the Tribunal took exception to a robust and overly aggressive cross examination of the Claimant’s alleged promiscuity and attention disorder.
This case should make employment lawyers pause to think. Ensuring your case is well prepared not only ensures your client’s position is well served, it also protects your own position and that of the firm you work for. Sound preparation saves hearing time. Poor preparation lengthens the hearing. Hearings cost public money and if the cost is one representative’s fault then it does seem logical that that firm should pay.