Monday, 7 March 2011

Manchester Tribunal Chucks Out Costs Claim

'THESE CASES', the barrister, Nick Toms, told Northern Voices at the Manchester Employment Tribunal today, 'are very unusual'. He was speaking of an claim for costs by the agency Meridian against the electrician Colin Trousdale in the case of Meridian v Colin Trousdale.

The basis of the firm's claim for almost £17,000 in costs against Mr Trousdale was that he had used a 'scatter-gun' approach to make a claim against the Agency that had a contract with Bailey Building Services, and he had charged it with failing to offer him work because of his trade union activities and knowing him to be on a blacklist run by the Consulting Association. Bailey Building Services was a known subscriber to the Consulting Association' for its blacklist data. Colin Trousdale had withdrawn his claim against the Meridian Agency in September 2010 on the advice of his solicitor, but Meridian had then pursued him for costs on the grounds that his case had had no chance of success, and claiming he was 'harassing' the firm, they further argued that his claimed was 'misconceived' he was being 'vexatious' and 'unreasonable'. It was also claimed that he failed to pull out of the application against Meridian before the high legal costs had been incurred.

Mr Trousdale's barrister, Nick Toms, argued that in the case of blacklisting, as with other 'discrimination' cases, it is often hard to assess the strength of a case until late because it is the nature of such cases that initially the evidence is slight. Employers being unwilling to admit to discrimination, thus evidence had to extracted gradually. Thus, weak cases on paper often turn out to be strong once the witnesses go under oath in the witness box. The Tribunal this afternoon found against Meridian and awarded no costs against Mr Trousdale or his union Unite.

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