Solicitor apprentice ordered to pay costs for conduct of failed claim

Mishcon: Substantial costs incurred in defending claim

A solicitor apprentice who showed “utter disrespect, bordering on contempt” to an employment tribunal and her former employer has been ordered to pay costs of £7,500.

The decision of Employment Judge Klimov followed his findings that Forzana Khanom’s actions in her case against London law firm Mishcon de Reya were “abusive, disruptive and that her conduct was unreasonable”.

As we reported earlier this month, he found she had shown “persistent, long-lasting and egregious disregard” of the tribunal’s orders and given “feeble and frankly scarcely credible explanations”.

For procedural reasons, he dismissed Ms Khanom’s claim for non-attendance at the hearing rather than striking it out. The nature of the claim, which was presented in November 2022, was not made clear.

Mishcon said that it incurred “substantial” costs in defending the claim but only sought to recover the brief fee of £7,200 for counsel’s attendance at the hearing on 27 February.

Ms Khanom did not respond to the tribunal’s invitation for her to make representations on the costs application or provide information on her ability to pay.

Judge Klimov said: “I am more than satisfied that the claimant has acted unreasonably in the way she conducted the proceedings.

“For the same reasons, I am also satisfied that the nature, gravity and extent of the claimant’s unreasonable conduct justifies me exercising my discretion and making a costs order against her.”

He said he would normally consider £7,200 to be a high brief fee for a case management preliminary hearing but here it had been anticipated that it would actually be the first day of a four-day full merits hearing.

This had to be vacated on short notice due to Ms Khanom being in persistent breach of the tribunal’s orders and her ongoing failure to engage with both the tribunal and Mishcon de Reya, so it was converted to a case management preliminary hearing.

In the absence of her providing information on her ability to pay, Judge Klimov concluded: “I find that it is just and proper for me to make a costs order in the full amount of the brief fee.”

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