Working Theory

by Michael Reed


I do employment law for the Free Representation Unit.


michael at


Costs are up, a little

21 September 2012

The 2011-12 Employment Tribunal statistics are out, including information on costs awards.

Excluding one atypical case, there were 611 awards of costs in 2011-12. 495 made against the claimant.1

In the same period, 110,800 claims were concluded in the tribunal system. So about 0.45% of claimants have costs awarded against them. But this includes many cases that are settled or for other reasons don’t go to hearing.2

It’s harder to work out how many hearings result in a costs award, because the statistics on types of disposal record jurisdictions disposed, rather than cases disposed.3 Approximately 21% of claims are resolved at a hearing.4 This suggests that roughly 23,268 cases are resolved at a hearing.5 That, in turn, suggests that about 2.1% of cases that end with a hearing result in costs being awarded against the claimant.

This is a significant rise on previous years, particularly when you consider that the number of disposals has reduced.6 But costs awards remain rare in the employment tribunal.

Hat tips to Daniel Barnett, Innes Clark & Richard Dunstan. Daniel alerted me to the publication of the statistics and all have been discussing them on twitter.

  1. There was one multiple claimant case in which 800 people were ordered to pay £5 costs each. Because of the way that the statistics are gathered this technically counts as 800 separate awards. 

  2. It’s not impossible for costs to be awarded in such cases – but my experience is that it’s unusual. 

  3. A single case can involve many jurisdictions. For example a claim for unfair dismissal, deductions from wages and holiday claim would be one case, but three jurisdictions. 

  4. Either successful at a hearing, dismissed at a preliminary hearing or unsuccessful at a hearing. 

  5. This is not a safe assumption, because it’s quite possible that there is a correlation between the number of jurisdictions involved in a claim and the likelyhood that it goes to a hearing. 

  6. 2009-10: 236,100 disposals; 2010-11: 218,100 disposals & 2011-12: 186,300 disposals. 

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