End Of The Road For Serial Litigators?
Tribunal fees have certainly had a big effect on the number of claims that reach the doors of the employment tribunal but we can remember that, until those changes, there were often tales of serial cases being brought by unworthy applicants.
The question asked in the recent case of Harrold v Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) was “can a serial litigator be prevented from making future claims?”
Ms Harrold was an experienced nurse. She had what you might describe as a ‘difficult’ attitude and, even more difficult for the NMC, she had submitted fifteen claims against the NMC in the Tribunal in the space of four years. Each of these claims had been dismissed, mostly for being without any merit whatsoever.
Following unsuccessful claim number fifteen, the NMC applied for a Civil Restraining Order to prevent her from bringing further claims against them without the express permission of a judge.
The restraining order was granted and the Claimant was prevented from bringing claims against the Respondent for two years.
This is a useful victory for employers generally and especially the NMC which has had its fair share of difficult, reported cases to contend with regarding serial litigators.
The upshot is that any litigant who continues to bring claims that are vindictive, frivolous or otherwise without merit can be barred from bringing future claims. This is added to the armoury of employers who can also seek a costs award against a litigant who pursues hopeless cases.
Whilst fees are usually enough to put off unmeritorious claims, litigants can still get around paying those pesky court fees by using legal expenses insurance and/or fee remission.
In this case insurance for Ms Harrold would have been unlikely as the case has to have ‘reasonable’ prospects of success for the insurers to grant cover to pursue her action, but fee remission is also possible providing the Claimant meets the requirements of being on an income assessed state benefit, or, having less than £3,000.00 in savings and a monthly income less than £1,085.00.
All in all, dare I say it, the EAT ( Employment Appeal Tribunal ) is getting to grips with hopeless claims which can only be good news for employers. Speak to me if you need any employment law advice.