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Lord Sugar’s unsuccessful claim to recover £50,000 costs from former Apprentice winner

Fiona recently blogged about the latest employment tribunal statistics. These show that out of the 107,420 tribunal claims disposed of in 2012/13, costs were only awarded in 651 cases (129 to the Claimant and 522 to the Respondent). The maximum costs award was £54,740 and the average award £3,141.

In light of these figures, it is perhaps not surprising that Lord Sugar failed to recover the £50,000 spent successfully defending the constructive dismissal claim brought by former Apprentice winner Stella English.

Ms English resigned from her position at Lord Sugar’s IT firm, Viglen, claiming that it “was not a role of substance“. Although the original tribunal had said that Ms English’s case “should never have been brought“, the tribunal hearing the costs application found that she had not been motivated by malice in bringing the claim but “truly believed that she had a case“. The application for costs was, therefore, unsuccessful.

In terms of the new tribunal rules, a tribunal may only consider making a costs order where, either:

  •  a party (or that party’s representative) has acted vexatiously, abusively, disruptively or otherwise unreasonably in either the bringing of the proceedings or the way that the proceedings have been conducted; or
  •  the claim or response had no reasonable prospect of success.

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