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Lying not automatically unreasonable conduct

View profile for Kate Fretten
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Kapoor v Governing Body of Barnhill Community School

In this case the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) overturned a tribunal’s decision to order a Claimant to pay £8,900 as a contribution towards the Respondent’s costs in defending the case.

The Claimant, an exam invigilator, brought claims of race discrimination, victimisation and harassment. In dismissing the claims, the tribunal found that her evidence was not worthy of belief, that she should not be trusted unless corroborated, and that she had falsified certain documents. The tribunal concluded that not telling the truth is unreasonable conduct, “as simple as that”.

The EAT, in saying the tribunal was incorrect to order costs against the Claimant, said the context, nature, gravity and effect of the lie were relevant and by failing to consider these issues, the tribunal had misdirected itself. There are various reasons why a claim may be unsuccessful, and these do not necessarily relate to giving false evidence. The EAT remitted the matter to the same tribunal for reconsideration.

In Practice

Employment Partner Kate Fretten says “In the last couple of years there have been several cases, particularly involving discrimination claims, in which a Claimant has been ordered to pay a contribution towards their ex-employer’s costs because they have lied in their evidence. The Tribunal in this case obviously went a step too far in saying, in effect, that this should be automatic. The EAT has reminded tribunals, and indeed employers, that this is not the case and every case should be looked at separately.”

At Frettens, all of our solicitors offer a free initial meeting to chat on the phone to answer your questions. If this article raises issues for you or your business, please call us on 01202 499255 and Kate or Paul will be happy to discuss it with you.