Employment Tribunal orders Claimant to pay almost £7,000 in costs after she breached COT3 settlement agreement terms (Ms L Ojelade v Genesis Housing Association Ltd – 3201771/2017)

In the case of Ms L Ojelade v Genesis Housing Association Ltd: 3201771/2017 the Employment Tribunal struck out the Claimant’s claims as having no reasonable prospects of success (a previous COT3 settlement agreement having been entered into), and ordered to pay the Respondent’s costs of almost £7,000.

The facts in Ojelade v Genesis Housing Association Ltd

Ms Ojelade (“the Claimant”) commenced employment with Genesis Housing Association Limited (“the Respondent”) from 6 February 2008.

On 5 February 2013 the Claimant went on a period of sickness absence, and on 22 August 2014 she was dismissed by the Respondent for ill-health capability. On 23 July 2014, almost exactly one month before she was dismissed, the Claimant brought claims for disability discrimination, a redundancy payment, and notice payment. A preliminary hearing took place and the Employment Judge who chaired the hearing noted that her claims had been brought prior to her dismissal.

The Claimant subsequently brought a second Employment Tribunal claim, but did not go through the proper ACAS Early Conciliation process before issuing the claim. A further preliminary hearing was held and a number of the Claimant’s claims were struck out as having no reasonable prospect of success.

The parties subsequently agreed a settlement aims against the Respondent, including the claims that the Claimant had previously brought, and the parties signed the agreement on 26 October 2015. Her claims were subsequently withdrawn and dismissed by the Employment Tribunal.

On 5 December 2017, over two years later, the Claimant issued another claim in the Employment Tribunal seeking to reinstate the claims that she had previously advanced (for disability discrimination, redundancy pay, and holiday pay).

The Respondent made an application to dismiss the Claimant’s claims on the basis that the claims had no reasonable prospect of success, or for an order from the Tribunal to reject her attempt to reinstate her earlier claim. A preliminary hearing was held in order to assess the Respondent’s application to strike the Claimant’s claim out.

The decision of the Employment Tribunal

The Employment Tribunal dismissed the Claimant’s claim on the basis that, a COT3 settlement agreement having previously been agreed, the Employment Tribunal did not have jurisdiction to hear her claims. Further, the Employment Tribunal held that the principle of ‘res judicata’ meant that the case could also not be re-litigated by the Claimant.

The Employment Tribunal also awarded the sum of £6,957 in costs against the Claimant, on the basis that 1) the Claimant had acted vexatiously and unreasonably in attempting to re-litigate her earlier claims; and 2) she had failed to respond to or accept an offer from the Respondent’s solicitors offering to not pursue her for costs if she withdrew her claims.

Our solicitors’ comments on Ojelade v Genesis Housing Association Ltd

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “This case demonstrates that it is dangerous for Claimants to attempt to re-litigate matters which are not only out of time, but also settled by way of a previous settlement agreement – the Employment Tribunal tends to take a very dim view of parties attempting to re-litigate settled claims.”

The decision of the Employment Tribunal in Ms L Ojelade v Genesis Housing Association Ltd: 3201771/2017 can be found here.