The normal position is that no legal costs are awarded in Employment Tribunal proceedings.
However there are some circumstances when legal costs can be awarded:
A costs order can only be made in favour of a party who has legal representation by a solicitor or a barrister.
Where a party is not represented they may apply for a 'preparation time' order which will provide some compensation for unreasonable conduct by the opposing party.
Amount of legal costs that can be awarded
An Employment Tribunal can award up to £20,000 of legal costs. If the costs claimed exceed this amount the case can be referred to the County Court to decide on the amount to award.
In making a costs order the Employment Tribunal has a power to take into account the means of the party paying the costs. The tribunal may therefore limit the costs award where the party has limited means but it does not have to do so.
Procedure for claiming costs
A party who is claiming costs must make an application to the Employment Tribunal. This application can be made verbally at the end of a hearing or in afterwards in writing.
Wasted costs orders
Employment Tribunals can also make costs orders against the representative of a party where the representative has acted improperly, unreasonably or negligently. Wasted costs order may be made in favour of the client of the representative.