In other words, should the head rule the heart not the other way around?
The cost to employers of defending an employment tribunal claim was highlighted when Times Higher Education reported that a university had spent more than £200,000 defending an unfair dismissal claim that could, it said, have been settled for much less. Although this case was over a decade ago it shows that a pragmatic approach might have resulted in the matter being settled for less than a tenth of the costs incurred. Estimates range from less than £10,000 to £15,000 at most as opposed to the £200,000 spent.
The university was proven to be right but at what cost?
Points to consider:
- What will it cost to defend it? Costs are recovered in less than 5% of cases.
- What are the chances of success in defending the claim? Have we done the right things in the right manner?
- What is the claimant likely to get in compensation? Can we settle for less and save on costs and resources?
- Think of the wider implications (e.g. negative publicity, a judgement on a public register and effects on employee and business morale). Will a judgement harm our business and attract other litigious people?
- DO NOT LET the principle sway you away from deciding the matter on simple economics. Being right may cost a lot more than settling and moving on.
- Remember that a Tribunal will often find both parties wanting and one party being wholly vindicated and the other being found to be entirely at fault is rare. Employment judges can investigate both claimant and respondent and ask questions of both. Do you want this?
Always try to make an informed decision based on the facts not feelings.