The EAT case of Ms Doyle v North West London Hospitals NHS Trust is an appeal against a costs order that Ms Doyle pay all of the costs of the NHS in defending her Tribunal claim – costs amounting to approximately £100,000!
Orders of this magnitude are few and far between and usually only issued where there is evidence of dishonesty on the part of the Claimant. In this case, it was found that Ms Doyle was responsible for two false documents before the Tribunal- one set of accouns to Companies House and her Schedule of Loss.
The issues raised at appeal were (a) having regard to conduct and its effects, the Tribunal was wrong to order the whole of the costs to be paid; and (b) the Tribunal failed to have regard to Ms Doyle’s ability to pay in deciding the appropriate order for costs.
It was found that there was no error of law on the conduct and effects point – a warning for anyone tempted to lie or mislead a Tribunal. However, it was found that on the ‘ability to pay’ point, whilst a Tribunal can disregard means when asessing costs, they should have a reason for doing so and say what it is. That didn’t happen in this case.
The case has been remitted to Tribunal to make enquiries into means and then make an appropriate costs order having regard to her ability to pay.