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Costs Award: Lying Not Automatically Unreasonable Conduct

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Thanks to James English of Samuel Phillips solicitors for preparing this case summary.

If a Claimant gives false evidence, is that automatically unreasonable conduct warranting a costs order?

No, held the EAT, in Kapoor v Governing Body of Barnhill Community School.

The Claimant, an exam invigilator, brought claims of race discrimination, victimisation and harassment. In dismissing the claims, the tribunal found that the Claimant's evidence was not worthy of belief, that she should not be trusted unless corroborated, and that she had falsified certain documents. The tribunal concluded that not telling the truth is unreasonable conduct, "as simple as that". The Claimant was ordered to pay £8,900 as a contribution towards the Respondent's costs.

In overturning that decision, the EAT followed HCA International Ltd v May-Bheemul and reiterated that the context, nature, gravity and effect of the lie were relevant. The Respondent does not have to show a clear causal link between the lie and the costs incurred. By failing to consider these issues, the tribunal had misdirected itself. There are various reasons why a claim may be unsuccessful, and these do not necessarily relate to giving false evidence. The EAT remitted the matter to the same tribunal for reconsideration.