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The Wasted Costs and Perils of Facebook

30th June 2011

In Jackson v Cambridgeshire County Council and others, the EAT on 8 June overturned an ET’s decision to award costs against a Mr Jackson, on the basis that he was not acting for profit. Mr Jackson is a solicitor who was representing the estate of his cousin, a former employee of the Council. The cousin had sued for discrimination and unfair dismissal, but then died of cancer.  The EAT concluded that this was just the sort of case where a relative might agree to act pro bono. The fact that the ET found him to be an unreliable witness was not determinative, given that the ET had not pressed him on this issue specifically.

You can read the full text of the judgment here:

http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKEAT/2011/0402_09_0806.html

Mr Jackson’s conduct generated reams of judicial criticism. Amongst other things, he had set up a Facebook page called “Justice for Mr Lloyd.” The EAT said: “Mr Jackson’s actions were certainly ill-judged and inappropriate for a solicitor representing his client on a professional basis.”

Mr Jackson also complained about one of the ET judges, whom he alleged had poisoned the wells of justice, using a CD of covert recordings of Tribunal members after they had retired. The EAT described the deliberations of Tribunal members as “plainly confidential.”

Later, it said:

“Mr. Jackson in the course of these proceedings behaved in several respects in a way which – to put it no higher – would not have been expected from a solicitor conducting himself in a professional manner.

The Tribunal indeed used much stronger language, referring to his behaviour in relation to the recordings as ‘appalling’.  But Mr. Jackson’s general manner both towards the respondents and their solicitors and towards the Tribunal was also thoroughly reprehensible.  His correspondence, of which we have seen several examples, is arrogant and bullying in tone.  There was a regrettable incident when he told the Tribunal that he was unable to attend the CMD on the first proposed date, being 1 April, because he had a prior professional commitment but was then unable to produce any evidence of that commitment.  According to the Tribunal, his conduct during the hearings, and in particular those in June, was thoroughly objectionable.  He made loud and inappropriate interventions; he attempted to interfere in the way that witnesses gave their evidence; and he took no trouble in either his body language or his expression to conceal his opinions about the members of the Tribunal.”

Case report by Barbara Hewson

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