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Lying Employment Tribunal Litigant Hit With £20,000 Costs Bill

In a case which underlined that justice ultimately depends on the honesty of litigants, a claimant before an Employment Tribunal (ET) who lied about her medical condition had her case dismissed and was ordered to pay more than £20,000 in legal costs.

The woman had lodged a number of complaints against her former employer, a local authority, including unfair dismissal, disability discrimination and detrimental treatment for whistleblowing. The case had an unusually complex procedural history and had been blighted by delays before it was listed for an eight-day hearing.

The woman obtained a postponement of that hearing by telling a lie about her medical condition and altering a date on a relevant document. The ET decided that, in those circumstances, it could have no confidence in her veracity and that a fair hearing of the matter was no longer possible. Her claim was dismissed and she was ordered to contribute more than £18,000 to the council’s legal costs.

In dismissing her challenge to those rulings, the Employment Appeal Tribunal noted that the outcome of the case would have depended largely on the woman’s credibility, which she had herself undermined. The council had suffered substantial prejudice due to the unwarranted adjournment and it was plainly right that she had been penalised in costs. She was also ordered to pay the costs of the appeal.