A litigant can sometimes find it difficult to elect the forum in which to issue proceedings. Sometimes it can simply be an issue of cost. Litigating in tribunal is less expensive and the findings of fact will bind a higher court. When deciding whether a stay of tribunal proceedings should be granted where claims are issued on similar facts in more than one court, it is necessary to consider the balance between duplication of court proceedings and the prejudice which might be caused by a stay. In Chorion plc and others v Lane the High Court held that tribunal proceedings should be stayed where there was a sufficient overlap between the tribunal and court proceedings. However, it should be remembered that there is no absolute rule that provides that tribunal proceedings should automatically be stayed.
The litigant, Mr Halstead, in Paymentshield Group Holdings Ltd v Halstead had first issued proceedings in an employment tribunal for unfair dismissal and breach of the Working Time Regulations 1998 in respect of holiday pay. Some two months prior to the hearing, Mr Halstead decided to send a letter before action with attached draft particulars of claim to Paymentshield. When Paymentshield sought a stay of the tribunal proceedings, Mr Halstead at first agreed but then changed his mind, intending to fund the more costly High Court proceedings with the compensation he expected to win from his tribunal claims. He applied for reinstatement of the tribunal proceedings and two employment judges at first instance agreed with him, agreeing to lift the stay because no High Court proceedings had been issued. Continue reading