Employment Law – Restriction of Proceedings Order – Vexatious Claims

The case of Attorney General v Deman [2006], involved vexatious proceedings being brought before the Employment Appeals Tribunal. The respondent was born and educated in India but had US citizenship. He was employed as an academic economist.

Between 1996 and 2005 he brought at least 40 claims before the employment tribunal. The great majority were claims for racial discrimination arising out of the refusal of an academic institution to short list or appoint him for a position for which he had applied. In most of the claims, the respondent alleged both primary discrimination and victimisation. The claims for victimisation mostly reflected the fact that the respondent believed that his history of litigation had become widely known and had been held against him.

Most of the proceedings had been unsuccessful and many had had lengthy and complex interlocutory histories and had resulted in very long hearings. The respondent’s behaviour had been the subject of considerable criticism by a number of employment tribunals. The decisions of the tribunals had been the subject of at least 40 appeals to the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

The Attorney General (the applicant in this case) applied under s.33 of the Employment Tribunals Act 1996 for a restriction of proceedings order against the respondent, in order to try to restrict the wasting of court time. It was held that, on the facts, the respondent could be said to have acted vexatiously and to have done so habitually and persistently.

With regards to the primary discrimination claims, in no case did the respondent have any worthwhile positive evidence to suggest that a decision in question was taken on racial grounds. Nor was there any statistical evidence supporting him in anyway. Regarding victimisation, a claim was made indiscriminately in virtually every case, irrespective of the individual facts or of any reason to suppose that the respondents to those claims knew anything of his history.

In making the applications in question for the posts at the academic institutions, the respondent was decreasingly concerned with achieving appointment and increasingly concerned with pursuing a campaign to demonstrate what he believed was discrimination in the world of higher education.

It appears that the great majority of the claims brought had little chance of success. In the circumstances, the proceedings were held to have been brought vexatiously. Those proceedings included appeals brought before the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

The outcome of the case was that the courts discretion was exercised in granting a restriction of proceedings order against the respondent. It was further held that there were no grounds for giving the restriction of proceedings order a finite term, and so continues indefinitely.

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© RT COOPERS, 2007. This Briefing Note does not provide a comprehensive or complete statement of the law relating to the issues discussed nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight general issues. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to particular circumstances.