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Advice For Employers & HR Professionals

When can a Tribunal refuse to allow a litigant to take further part in proceedings due to their conduct?


A Claimant’s behaviour and conduct being scandalous, unreasonable and vexatious would surely lead to their claims being struck out. Not according to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in the recent case of Hargreaves v Evolve Housing & Support (the First Respondent) and another named Respondent.

The Claimant was summarily dismissed by the First Respondent for gross misconduct and brought claims for discrimination, victimisation and unfair dismissal before the Employment Tribunal.

Conduct of the Claimant

During the proceedings, the Claimant sent numerous emails which had the clear intention and objective of creating a damaging narrative and reputation for the Respondents, including accusing the First Respondent of being a racist, abusive organisation and accusing it of religious harassment. He also threatened the Respondents with legal actions, high profile media political campaigning and other unreasonable actions that he stated would be unstoppable.

It was clear that the Claimant’s intentions were to destroy the business of the First Respondent, which is a supported housing organisation, and to inflict as much damage as he could on the Respondents as a vendetta against them. The Tribunal held that his intent was to ‘vilify and publicly humiliate’ the Respondents and that the Claimant was vindictive. The Claimant’s primary purpose was to create a public and political scandal involving as many persons associated with them as possible, and to portray the Respondents as villains in the public eye. He was using the Employment Tribunal proceedings as a tool to attempt to do so.

The Tribunal held that due to the extent to which the Claimant was prepared to inflict such damage, a fair trial would not be possible because the Respondents’ witnesses would feel intimidated, they would end up further attacked by the Claimant, and because the Claimant’s conduct shows that his intention was to usurp the trial.


However, the EAT held that the Tribunal was wrong in this decision and that Tribunal had erred in holding that a fair trial was not possible. The Claimant’s claims were reinstated.

The Claimant successfully argued that it was wrong for the Tribunal to conclude that his abusive conduct resulted in the impossibility of a fair trial. One of the EAT’s reasons for this was because the witnesses had not provided any evidence that they were intimidated by the Claimant or that they were fearful of giving evidence. It was not clear to the EAT how the conclusion was reached that there could not possibly be a fair trial. The fact that no was no alternative order available to the Tribunal other than strike out that was appropriate did not mean that strike-out was.


If you are dealing with a difficult individual and would like advice, please do get in touch as the Torque Law team are on hand to provide support and guidance to help navigate you through all types of tricky employment situations, including Tribunal claims.  Please contact Laura Gillhespy or another member of team Team Torque Law

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