In the case of Mrs A Cooney v Somerset Care Ltd: ET/1402613/2018 an Employment Tribunal awarded the Respondent £4,000 in costs after it found that the Claimant had unreasonably rejected the offer of a settlement agreement.
The facts in Cooney v Somerset Care Ltd
Mrs Cooney (“the Claimant”) made a claim to the Employment Tribunal for wrongful dismissal and constructive unfair dismissal.
On 28 January 2019 the Respondent made an offer to settle the Claimant’s claims of £6,100. On 12 March 2019 the Respondent made a further settlement offer of £8,000. Both of these settlement offers had been sent with costs warnings, and the Claimant rejected both of these offers.
The Respondent subsequently made an application for its costs of dealing with the case from 28 January 2019 (amounting to £9,667.20)
The decision of the Employment Tribunal
The Respondent argued that the Claimant’s behaviour in rejecting the settlement offers made was unreasonable, given that her claims were misconceived.
The Claimant argued that she had refused the settlement offers because the proposed COT3 settlement agreement contained provisions which prevented her from bringing a personal injury claim and/or detailed that the Claimant would have to pay back the settlement sums if a third party breached the terms of the settlement agreement.
The Employment Tribunal held that the Claimant’s claims were misconceived, and that the Claimant had behaved unreasonably in bringing them and not accepting the settlement offers.
In relation to the settlement agreement terms proposed, the Employment Tribunal held that:
- There was no term in the COT3 settlement agreement precluding her from bringing a personal injury claim in the future; and
- The confidentiality clause in the settlement agreement was a standard non-disclosure clause
The Employment Tribunal held that, on this basis, there was no basis for the Claimant rejecting to the settlement terms proposed in the COT3 settlement agreement drafted by the Respondent’s solicitors.
The Tribunal ordered the Claimant to pay the Respondent’s costs amounting to £4,000.00.
Our solicitors’ comments on Cooney v Somerset Care Ltd
Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Costs orders are not the norm in the Employment Tribunal, but this case serves as a warning to both claimants and respondents alike – parties to litigation must ensure that their claim or defence is not misconceived, and that they do not unreasonably rejected settlement offers made, otherwise they may face the risk of not only losing the claim but also paying the winning side’s costs.”
The decision of the Employment Tribunal in Mrs A Cooney v Somerset Care Ltd: ET/1402613/2018 can be found here.