In-house lawyers working on employment tribunal claims may need to adopt time-recording practices similar to those in private firms following an appeal ruling.
In Ladak v DRC Locums Ltd (UKEAT/0488/13/LA), the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that costs awarded can include time spent by a qualified in-house legal representative.
The judgment is good news for organisations represented by in-house solicitors in employment tribunal claims.
Employment law specialist Gordon Turner, of Gordon Turner Employment Lawyers, said: ‘If a non-represented party can seek compensation under a “preparation time order”, why shouldn’t an in-house lawyer’s time be compensated in the same way?’
Gemma Smith (pictured), a solicitor in the employment team at Bond Dickinson, said: ‘If they haven’t already been doing so, those employing in-house legal representatives should include time incurred by them defending employment tribunal claims in any application for costs.
‘To assist an employment tribunal in determining the level of costs to be awarded, it will be necessary for in-house solicitors to keep a clear record of time spent on each case going forward.’
Smith said the employer will need to decide what hourly rate to use when seeking to recover costs. ‘One potential option may be to use the guideline hourly rates used when assessing costs in civil proceedings,’ she suggested. ‘Also, in-house legal departments may find it easier to claim costs if other business units are charged for their time as part of internal accounting processes.’