Employment e-Brief: Can an insurer or trade union be reimbursed for Tribunal fees?

Friday 7th August 2015

In Ibarz v University of Sheffield, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (‘EAT’) confirmed that it does have the power to order a Respondent to repay Tribunal fees even where they have not actually been paid by a Claimant but, instead, by their trade union. It held that it would be contrary to public policy not to order that a losing Respondent pay the Tribunal fees simply because the monies would go to the Claimant’s insurer or union.

The EAT considered that the previous decision to the contrary in the case of Goldwater and Ors v Sellafield Limited had been wrongly decided.

Whilst the decision is logical, it isn’t great news for employers who will now always face the risk of re-paying Tribunal fees if their defence to a claim is not successful.

As an example, in the Ibarz case the employer successfully defended the claim at the Employment Tribunal but the decision was overturned by the EAT. Therefore, despite the original Employment Tribunal having agreed with them, the employer had to pay the Tribunal fees. The days of Tribunals being a cost free forum are now long-gone.

To discuss this e-brief in more detail, please contact a member of the Employment team.