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Lawyer ordered to pay £4,000 costs for unreasonable conduct after losing unfair dismissal claim

A former employee whose legal action against international firm Hogan Lovells was described as a ‘form of revenge’ has been ordered to pay a further £4,000 to the firm after his claim for unfair dismissal was thrown out by the employment tribunal. 

Mr ID was previously ordered to pay £4,000 ‘on account of unreasonable behaviour’ after the firm succeeded in its application to strike out the case.

Mr ID, a native Russian speaker, said he was disadvantaged at his previous hearing because he did not have a translator. But employment judge Kelly said that the lack of interpreter ‘did not render the hearing unfair’. She was ‘satisfied at the time, and [remains] satisfied’ that Mr ID ‘fully understood’ the hearings and was ‘able to effectively and fully engage with all issues raised’.

The judgment in the reconsideration request highlighted that an interpreter was present at the hearing, but ‘on occasion’ Mr ID answered questions from the judge in English without assistance. The judge added: ‘Indeed, on one occasion, he seemed unhappy with the translation actually provided, and told the translator that he would explain his position to me directly.’

Mr ID’s CV noted his English was fluent, that he had worked for 13 employers in the UK, including defending cases as a locum lawyer, and that he has a master’s degree in maritime law.

The judge said Mr ID’s raising of language issues ‘is nothing more than an unmeritorious attempt to try and find fault’ with the first hearing ‘in the hope the decision will be reversed’.

Mr ID’s claim ‘could not succeed even if the facts relied upon by the claimant, without any further input from the respondent, were proven at a final hearing’ as he had no basis to believe that he was able to make a disclosure, the judgment said. It added: ‘The appropriate step for the claimant to have taken was to withdraw the claim and not persist in a hopeless cause.’

Mr ID’s conduct ‘has been, and continued to be, unreasonable’, the judge said. ‘I take the view that the approach is one designed to cause maximum disruption to the respondent, perhaps in the hope of securing a settlement outside of these proceedings, or perhaps as some form of revenge for his dismissal.’

Hogan Lovells indicated that the reconsideration request was dealt with by the firm at £1,140 per hour – a fee described as ‘unrealistic to recover on the basis of claims between parties to employment tribunal proceedings’.

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