Going it alone... Watch out!
A recent case highlights the importance of litigants in person taking appropriate advice on their claims to ensure they fully understand and properly convey the claim they seek to bring.
In the case of Liddington v 2gether NHS Foundation Trust, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) upheld the Employment Tribunal’s Order that the Claimant in that case, Ms Liddington, pay wasted costs to her former employer.
Ms Liddington was dismissed by her employer and she sought to argue that amongst other things, this was related to a whistleblowing disclosure she had made. In total Ms Liddington complained that she had been the victim of constructive unfair dismissal, she had been subjected to discrimination on the grounds of her religion and she had suffered a detriment on account of her “blowing the whistle”. Ms Liddington brought an employment tribunal claim on this basis.
Ms Liddington’s former employer applied for her claims to be struck out/dismissed and pointed to her lack of particularisation; she had not been able to provide specific dates on which key incidents had taken place, for example. The employer argued that they could not reasonably respond to the claim owing to its lack of clarity.
A number of preliminary hearings were held by the Tribunal to consider the employer’s applications and Ms Liddington was given several opportunities to remedy the issues. She failed to do so and the Tribunal found that her claims had no reasonable prospects of success. As a consequence, Ms Liddington was ordered to pay the Respondent’s wasted costs for one of the preliminary hearings.
Ms Liddington appealed the order for costs, but the Appeal Judge upheld it. The Judge specifically highlighted that whilst a litigant in person was not expected to plead their case as a lawyer would, a Claimant should be able to particularise and explain their case properly and allow the Respondent the opportunity to respond.
In this case, the claims Ms Liddington was seeking to bring against her former employer were particularly complex, and she clearly did not appreciate the various legal thresholds she was required to meet in order to succeed. Whilst the Tribunal will continue to be as helpful as possible to Claimants acting without representation, litigants in person are under a duty to properly prepare their cases. The consequences for not complying with this duty could be having to pay out thousands of pounds in wasted costs, as Ms Liddington found out.
Chattertons’ employment team specialists are experienced at helping clients in a wide variety of claims. If you require assistance with any aspect of your employment claim, please do not hesitate to get in touch.