Unlike civil courts proceedings, there is no general rule in employment proceedings that the successful party has the right to recover their legal costs.
Tribunals, in fact, have no inherent power to award costs and may only consider making an award in the restricted circumstances set out in the Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2004. Tribunals` powers to make costs orders were significantly increased by those Regulations, but costs orders are still the exception rather than the rule.
Costs orders can be made in respect of:
• A party`s costs • Any allowance paid to the person who attends a Tribunal hearing
Costs orders can only be made in favour of those who are legally represented and include fees, charges and disbursements. They cannot be made against employers who choose not to defend a claim and take no further part in the proceedings.