A London-based solicitor is calling on the HR community to stop serial litigants making money from out-of-court settlements by sharing information about suspicious tribunal claims.
Gordon Turner, a solicitor at Partners Employment Lawyers, warned that the Tribunals Service was not doing enough to stop the problem after acting on behalf of a small recruitment business specialising in placing recent graduates.
The firm received an tribunal claim alleging that the phrase ‘recent graduate’ in a job advertisement was indirectly discriminatory.
“There was no record of the applicant applying for any job or any pre-action letter,” said Turner.
After lodging the firm’s defence, Turner received an e–mail offering to “drop the whole thing” for a sum of money, while at the same time threatening to forward details of the claim to regulatory bodies and the media.
“Alarm bells began to ring,” Turner said.
After checking the Register of Decisions at the Employment Tribunal Office in Bury St Edmunds, Turner found at least 15 such claims had been dealt with, all of them dismissed or struck out on the basis that the claimant had not even applied for the position in the first place.When confronted with this data the claimant owned up to “under 50“ similar claims.
Records revealed the claimant had applied for jobs in architecture, mobile telecommunications, translation, and “dance examination“, with claims lodged attribunal offices throughout England.
Turner said: “The system should be able to identify 50 claims by one person as a potential problem.“
Despite this, the Tribunal Service said there were no plans to publish claims online. Firms must call the Bury St Edmunds office with the name of the claimant and regions where they are likely to have submitted a claim if they want to find out if an individual has a history of bringing claims against several employers.
In December 2008, serial litigant Margaret Keane accused 22 companies of ageism, earning up to £100,000.
Turner’s case can be viewed at the Tribunal Register Case No. 3302218/2008. Turner is willing to share his findings with readers to prevent what appears to be an abuse of the system.
For further details contact Gordon Turner on [email protected]
The Bury St Edmunds Tribunal Office can be reached on: 01284 701284.