Restriction of proceedings order
Her Majesty’s Attorney General v Deman, EAT, 1 September 2006
Between 1996 and 2005, Mr Deman brought at least 40 tribunal claims. Most were for race discrimination arising out of the refusal of an academic institution to shortlist or appoint Deman for a position for which he had applied. Most claims had a victimisation element too, which reflected Deman’s belief that his history of litigation had become widely known and was being held against him.
Most of the tribunal proceedings were unsuccessful, and Deman made a large number of appeals to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) and Court of Appeal. In addition, he made many applications during the course of the tribunal proceedings themselves.
The Attorney General brought a claim under section 33 of the Employment Tribunals Act 1996, arguing that most of Deman’s tribunal and EAT proceedings had been vexatiously instituted (section 33 (1)(a)), and that during the course of those proceedings, Deman had habitually made vexatious applications (section 33(1)(b)).
The EAT found against Deman on both grounds and exercised its discretion to make an indefinite restriction of proceedings order.
The EAT found Deman’s chances of success in relation to the majority of claims were very poor. In no case did he have any “worthwhile positive evidence”. Nor was there any statistical evidence supporting him.
Regarding section 33(1)(b), the EAT found Deman habitually made four different types of vexatious applications. Specifically, a pattern of last-minute applications for adjournments on inadequate grounds, which caused serious disruption applications for witness orders where the evidence was irrelevant applications to a large number of tribunals to have the judge withdrawn on grounds of bias and applications for reviews of issues already decided.
This is a useful example of a case where both grounds in section 33 were considered by the EAT. The aim of section 33 is not to punish vexatious claimants, but to prevent the prejudice and cost to respondents and tribunals of having to deal with repeated claims that have no real prospect of success.