Unreasonable behaviour in the Employment Tribunal may result in the claim being struck out

hmctsA recent case in the Employment Tribunal on the Isle of Man demonstrates that Claimants (and, equally, Respondents) must behave themselves in the Employment Tribunal or they may end up having their claim (or response) struck out.

Mr Adenaike issued a claim for unfair dismissal against Paddy Power this year after he was dismissed from his job at the company. The case came to a full Employment Tribunal earlier this month with Dr Sharon Roberts chairing the Tribunal. During the course of the Employment Tribunal Mr Adenaike appears to have objected to either the actions of the Employment Judge or the Respondent’s representatives and started to pack his belongings to leave, turning his back on the Employment Tribunal as he did so. This resulted in the Employment Judge striking out Mr Adenaike’s claim as demonstrative on unreasonable behaviour on his part.

The Employment Tribunal has broad powers to strike out a claim or a response under Rule 18(8) of the Employment Tribunals Rules of Procedure (set out in Schedule 1 of the Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations (SI 2004/1861) if one of the following situations occurs:

  • The claim or response is scandalous or vexatious or has no reasonable prospects of success
  • The proceedings have been conducted by or on behalf of a party in a scandalous, unreasonable or vexatious manner
  • A claim has not been actively pursued
  • Non-compliance with an order or practice direction
  • Where the employment judge or tribunal considers that it is no longer possible to have a fair hearing in the proceedings

The Employment Judge in this instance struck the claim out because the Claimant was acting in a scandalous, unreasonable or vexatious manner at the Employment Tribunal. In order for the Employment Tribunal to be able to strike out the proceedings the conduct of the proceedings as a whole must be unreasonable, not just the representative’s conduct at the Employment Triunal.

Employment Judge Roberts found that the Claimant’s conduct had been unreasonable. He had turned his back on the Employment Tribunal, left the hearing and accused the Respondent’s representatives of playing “cat and mouse” games with him. The Employment Judge commented in her judgment on the application to strike out the claim that: “Mr Adenaike turned his back on the tribunal and continued to pack totally ignoring my request that he respond… I have no hesitation in finding that Mr Adenaike has conducted his case in an unreasonable, disruptive and unruly manner. He has persisted to a point almost beyond patience of anyone. I find that Mr Adenaike has used the tribunal to vilify others namely the advocates for the Respondent… I find that not only has Mr Adenaike behaved scandalously, vexatiously and unreasonably, but that he has conducted the proceedings in such manner as well.”

A subsequent appeal by Mr Adenaike failed at the Isle of Man High Court.

Chris Hadrill, an employment law specialist at Redmans, commented: “This case demonstrates that both parties in the Employment Tribunal must conduct themselves with courtesy and professionalism in the Employment Tribunal and must not behave in an unreasonable, vexatious or scandalous manner. Doing so will may cause the Employment Tribunal to strike out the claim or response and could bring significant cost consequences with it.”