Costs: Employment Tribunal makes one of the largest cost awards ever - Tan v Copthorne Hotels

An Employment Tribunal (‘ET’) has made a six figure costs award and ordered a Claimant to pay £432,000 to his former employer after dismissing his claims against them. This is thought to be the largest cost award ordered by the ET to date. 

What are costs awards?

The general rule in ET proceedings is that parties are expected to meet their own costs and expenses. In certain circumstances, one party can make an application for their costs to be paid by the other side however such orders are rarely granted.


The Claimant worked for the Respondent as a Senior Vice-President for Procurement and was subsequently made redundant in 2017. He thereafter brought claims for unfair dismissal, race discrimination, sex discrimination, age discrimination, victimisation, harassment, whistleblowing detriment and unlawful deductions from wages in the ET.

During the disclosure exercise, it was discovered that the Claimant had made tens of hundreds of hours of covert recordings of his colleagues. He further submitted a vast amount of documentation to support his claim leading to a set of documents exceeding £3,000 pages.


The ET dismissed all of the Claimant’s claims.

It held that his dismissal due to redundancy was fair and highlighted that even if it was found to be unfair, the Claimant would have been dismissed in any event after the Respondent discovered he has made covert recordings was the ET branded as ‘duplicitous and undermining of the relationship of trust and confidence.”

The ET further recognised that the Claimant was “using a scattergun approach making reference to every possible claim he could think of, to strengthen his position within the redundancy exercise.”

Due to the vexatious nature of the Claimants actions in pursuing his claims, the ET thereafter made a record cost award of £432,000 against the Claimant.

Implications for employers

It is hoped that the decision and subsequent cost order will deter Claimants from bringing unfounded claims in the ET. Respondents should also be aware of this costs risk when defending legitimate claims against them. Such claims put further pressure on an already very under resourced employment tribunal system and this case is a good example of an attempt to manipulate the system being prevented.

The law and practice referred to in this article or webinar has been paraphrased or summarised. It might not be up-to-date with changes in the law and we do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided at the time of reading. It should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice in relation to a specific set of circumstances.

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