Claimants who repeatedly and persistently bring tribunal claims that have no merit can be subjected, on the application of the Attorney General, to a Restriction of Proceedings Order. In the case of Attorney General v Taheri the EAT held that Mr Taheri should be the subject of an Restriction of Proceedings Order not just because of the number of claims he had brought over a ten-year period, but also because of the similarity between them.


Attorney General’s arguments

The Attorney General brought an application to the appeal tribunal for a Restriction of Proceedings Order against Mr Taheri under section 33 of the Employment Tribunals Act 1996, arguing that he had “habitually and persistently and without any reasonable ground” instituted vexatious tribunal proceedings.

Specifically, the Attorney General alleged that Mr Taheri had repeatedly applied for jobs, after which he would claim that he had been discriminated against on the ground of age, race and/or disability if his application was rejected. Although he would initially value the claim at thousands of pounds, he would subsequently seek a settlement of a few hundred pounds, while making threats of adverse publicity or regulatory referral.

In all, the Attorney General estimated that Mr Taheri had made at least 41 tribunal claims over a ten-year period. He had withdrawn many of the claims before they could be decided on their merits, sometimes because the tribunal made an order to strike it out or required him to lodge a deposit. Of the two cases that had proceeded to trial, both had been dismissed, with costs awarded against him.


Mr Taheri’s rebuttal

For his part, Mr Taheri argued that the Restriction of Proceedings Order application - which he alleged had been made in collusion with solicitors who had acted against him in some of his claims – was a vexatious attempt to violate his rights under Article 6 (the right to a fair trial) of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) as well as the Equality Act.

Rather than being a vexatious litigant, he said that his only intention had been to find purposeful employment over the years. He felt that he had been treated unfairly in past hearings and denied real justice. The present proceedings were, therefore, “just another attempt by an unfair system to silence an older disabled person who is finding it impossible to find work”.

If his behaviour was at times less than professional, he argued that this was due to various medical conditions including prostate cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stomach problems, anxiety and depression.


EAT decision

Allowing the Attorney General’s application, the EAT held that Mr Taheri’s behaviour met all the criteria under section 33.

Firstly, it was habitual and persistent. Although there might have been one duplication in the tribunal schedule, he himself accepted that he had brought 41 tribunal claims over the last decade. There was also a degree of repetition to the claims as many of the allegations were very similar, he sought very similar sums of compensation and adopted similar tactics in the way he conducted the proceedings.

Secondly, he brought the claims “without any reasonable ground” with many of them being struck out or withdrawn before they had been considered.

Thirdly, as his approach constituted “a weaponisation of the [tribunal] process that is significantly different from the ordinary and proper use of that process”, it could properly be regarded as vexatious.

While it acknowledged that someone of Mr Taheri’s age, with his medical problems, might well experience discrimination when seeking employment in a competitive labour market, the EAT concluded his rights under Article 6 had not been infringed. Nor was there any basis for a claim of unlawful discrimination under the Equality Act.

It therefore granted the Attorney General an Restrictions of Proceedings Order of indefinite duration.