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Tribunal Makes Record Costs Award Against Employee

BY Ben Brown
Employment Law & HR

Recently, the record for highest costs award made by an employment tribunal was shattered.

The case of Tan v Copthorne Hotels Ltd was originally brought to tribunal back in 2017 with the claimant, Mr Chee Hwee Tan, seeking compensation for eight different claims consisting of: unfair dismissal, age discrimination, race discrimination, sex discrimination, harassment, victimisation, unlawful deduction from wages and finally, whistleblowing detriment.

Mr Tan had been made redundant from his position of Senior Vice President of Global Procurement by his former employer Copthorne Hotels but later argued that this process was unfair and that he had been the victim of discrimination.

Not only did the tribunal find that the dismissal of Mr Tan was fair; the tribunal also dismissed all of the claims presented by Mr Tan who’s “duplicitous” actions were found to be nothing more than an attempt to deceive all parties involved. In a monumental judgment the tribunal awarded Copthorne Hotels £432,000 in legal costs – a figure that is believed to be the greatest ever made by a UK employment tribunal.

But with £432,000 being well above the average £2,400 costs award, which is in itself rarely awarded, the question of what exactly transpired in the case to justify such an amount is raised.

The figure was awarded to Copthorne Hotels on an indemnity basis following the discovery that Mr Tan had effectively falsified the entirety of his claims, using any and every excuse that he could to strengthen his argument. Not only this, the tribunal uncovered that Mr Tan had covertly made recordings of conversations and meetings held between himself and colleagues, creating a huge breach in trust and confidence. This ultimately led to over 3000 documents being presented during the case.

Aside from the award reflecting just how far Mr Tan went to wrongly implicate his former employer, it is hoped that the figure will discourage and act as a message to others seeking to similarly bring falsified and dishonest claims before employment tribunals as the repercussions could be significant

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