Costs against employer refused

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Costs against employer refused

An application by an employee for costs against his employer after the employee was successful in a termination of employment claim, was dismissed.

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An application by an employee for costs against his employer after the employee was successful in a termination of employment claim, was dismissed.

The employee had been awarded $10,500 compensation in respect of his termination of employment. The employee then made an application for costs against the employer which was rejected. The employee then lodged an appeal to the Full Bench of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission for costs (Blagojevch v Kaplan Services Pty Limited; Print R1274, [1999] 089 IRCommA).

The employee submitted that the employer's conduct prior to the proceedings was unreasonable and that the employer had acted unreasonably in not agreeing to the terms of settlement proposed by the employee prior to the hearing. One of the terms proposed was the provision of $8,500 in compensation ($2,000 less than the amount ordered).

The Full Bench stated that costs may only be awarded if:

...the Commission is satisfied, relevantly to this case, that a party had 'acted unreasonably in failing ... to agree to terms of settlement.' The section is not concerned as such with whether a party has acted unreasonably in the conduct of its case, for example by refusing inspection of documents or by the use of delaying tactics. Such conduct, reprehensible as it might otherwise be, will only be relevant if it bears upon the reasonableness of a party in failing to agree to terms of settlement.

The Full Bench declined to grant leave to appeal and stated they were unable to discern any mistake on the facts or any error in principle.

 

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