Serial litigants website ‘condemned’ by MPs

Nearly 50 MPs have “condemned” a website launched by an employment lawyer to name and shame serial litigants.

Gordon Turner, co-founder of Partners Employment Lawyers, is coming under increasing fire from politicians after he exposed 30 serial tribunal claimants, with one man alone believed to have been involved in 150 allegations of discrimination.

The service, launched last year, offers employers facing claims a background search on claimants at a cost of £99.

In one case, a firm discovered a man had put through 35 cases under his name and had not turned up for 80% of them.

Vexatious claims often arose from the use of phrases in recruitment adverts, such as ‘recent graduate’ or ‘school leaver’, Turner has said.

But MPs are growing increasingly wary of the site, claiming it could be used to unfairly reject job applicants who have been involved in genuine tribunal cases.

An early day motion called ‘Victimisation in the Workplace’ and led by Labour MP David Anderson, posted on the UK Parliament site, said: “This House… condemns the launch of a website by Gordon Turner of Partners Employment Lawyers and Damian McCarthy from Cloisters Chambers which allows employers to find out if a person has taken an employer to tribunal in the past [and] believes that such a website could be used to screen unfairly applicants who have legitimately taken their employer to tribunal in the past, which runs contrary to the government’s progress on dealing with the victimisation of trade union members.”

The motion, yet to be debated in parliament, also expresses concern that the serial litigant website would be in breach of data protection laws.

Under the Data Protection Act, Turner is not allowed to maintain a database of serial litigants, but the website is understood to search information about previous claims and claimants using documents that are already in the public domain.

Turner told Personnel Today: “It is a shame that some members of parliament have misunderstood what we are trying to do, and that those supporting the early day motion hadn’t contacted us to clarify this.

“All we do is make searching the public register easier and more cost effective. Politicians need to appreciate just how undermining of our tribunals service it is to allow serial claimants to cause so much trouble unchecked.”

Last year, HR chiefs warned the tribunal process was fundamentally flawed and needed a complete overhaul to prevent frivolous claims that have no chance of winning from blocking up the system.

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