Damages arising out of cost of tribunal

Unusually, a police force is pursuing its former head of legal services for nearly £600,000 in costs after she lost an employment tribunal last year.

The employee, who was dismissed by Northumbria Police for gross misconduct in 2014, had claimed she was unfairly dismissed. However, the tribunal found the dismissal to have been fair.

The Police force is seeking to recover more than £577,000 but the ex-employee has stated that she pursued her claim “honestly and in good faith”.

The tribunal hearing exposed a number of embarrassing accusations involving the force. These included rumours that high-ranking officers were involved in affairs, with one leading to a fight at a BBQ, and that there was a culture of bullying and sexist behaviour. Northumbria Police later claimed many of the allegations were based on “speculation, rumour and innuendo” and for this reason seek to secure the costs of the claim from the employee as they believe the tribunal has caused damage to the force’s reputation.

Defending employment tribunal claims will often be costly, and employers will become increasingly keen to try to claim those costs back from employees, particularly now that employment fees have been scrapped. There is an expectation that a sharp rise in employment tribunal claims will result from the fees removal.

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