Tribunal Costs and Recovery of the Same

Obtaining and Contesting Costs Orders


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What is a Tribunal and What are the Different Types?

Tribunals are vital parts of the civil justice system and work alongside ordinary Courts. The main types of Tribunals in the UK are:

Tribunals are split into two tiers, First-Tier Tribunals and Upper Tribunals. The Upper Tribunal is used to hear appeals from the First Tier Tribunal, to exercise judicial review powers and to deal with enforcements of orders made by First-Tier Tribunals.


What are the Costs Involved in Taking a Case to the Tribunal?


The usual rule of thumb in a Tribunal is that each party bears their own legal costs of bringing or defending the Tribunal claim. In some instances, and at certain Tribunals there is no Tribunal fee to be paid to bring a claim such as in the instance of employment tribunal claims. But orders for costs can be made by the Tribunal usually at the final hearing.  Complex cases, such as those allocated to the complex track in Tax Chamber disputes, are more likely to have costs orders made in the proceedings due to the significant amount of work required.

For example, under employment law and the Employment Tribunal Procedure Rules, a dispute for unfair dismissal will be dealt with at the Employment Tribunal. Whilst initially, each party bears their own costs, there are instances where the Tribunal can order costs for the claim brought. In this type of case, there are two orders which can be made in relation to costs, a costs order or a preparation time order. In each instance the Tribunal will consider making an order for costs if one party acted unreasonably in bringing or defending the claim.

Similarly, in the First Tier Tribunal Property Chamber it is usually the case that each party bears their own costs. The Tribunal in this instance can make an order for costs if there is a written contract between the parties which allows an order for costs, if there is an Act of Parliament which permits it or if either party has acted unreasonably in bringing or defending the case to the Tribunal.

Under Rule 9(2) of the Tribunal Procedure (First-Tier Tribunal) (Immigration and Asylum Chambers) Rules 2014, the Immigration Tribunal can consider an award for costs to be made if a party has acted unreasonably in bringing, conducting or defending the case.

It becomes apparent that if a party’s conduct is deemed to be unreasonable by the Tribunal, a costs award will be considered by the Tribunal, irrespective of which Tribunal the case is in.


How to Avoid an Order for Costs in the Tribunal

It is clearly important that you have a reasonable case before bringing a matter before a Tribunal. Similarly with defending a matter, it is important that you have reasonable grounds for your arguments before contesting the matter.

It is also important that all the facts are disclosed and that you act in an honest manner throughout the proceedings, even before bringing the claim to the Tribunal. It is important that you comply with all Tribunal deadlines, orders and requests to avoid an order for costs.

In any event, it may be worth considering setting up after-the-event legal expenses insurance to protect your position before proceeding with your case to the Tribunal.

How Can ARC Costs Assist?

ARC Costs are a an independent team of expert Costs Draftsmen and Costs Lawyers dealing with both receiving party and paying party costs. Our expertise ranges from advising on prospects of obtaining a costs order, and preparing submissions (our settling witness statements in support), to preparing Bills of Costs for assessment, or drafting Points of Dispute and Points of Reply, and providing representation at any detailed assessment hearing if any settlement agreements cannot be reached.  Should you require any assistance or would like to discuss your query, please contact us on 01204 397302, or have one of our costs experts contact you directly by emailing


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01204 397302

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