Ashmore v British Coal Corporation: CA 1990

The plaintiff was one of many female employees who complained to the industrial tribunal that she was paid less by the defendant than her male counterparts. Sample cases were selected for trial and the others stayed pending a decision. It was an express term that the other cases were not bound by the test cases. She did not seek to put her case forward as one of the test cases, so it was stayed. The test cases had been decided adversely, and she sought to have the stay lifted to enable her to continue her claim.
Held: Although the decision in the test cases was not binding upon her as a matter of law, it would be an abuse of process for her to relitigate the same issues since that would defeat the whole purpose of having test claims.
Stuart-Smith LJ said: ‘The expression `frivolous or vexatious’ in rule 12(2)(e) [which seems to be the predecessor of the current regulation 13(2)(d)] includes applications which are an abuse of process: see E T Marler Ltd v Robertson [1974] ICR 72, 76, per Sir Hugh Griffiths. Whether or not an application should be struck out on this ground is a matter for the discretion of the tribunal, which can only be challenged on the basis that the tribunal has misdirected itself in law or reached a decision to which no reasonable tribunal could come: see Medallion Holidays Ltd v Birch [1985] ICR 578.’


Stuart-Smith LJ


[1990] 2 QB 338, [1990] 2 All ER 981, [1990] IRLR 283, [1990] ICR 485, [1990] 2 WLR 1437


England and Wales


ApprovedBragg v Oceanus Mutual Underwriting Association (Bermuda) Ltd CA 1982
The court considered the ability to prevent relitigation of issues already decided. The Court identified some of the limits of the abuse jurisdiction. Kerr LJ said: ‘To take the authorities first, it is clear that an attempt to relitigate in another . .
CitedE T Marler Limited v Robertson NIRC 1974
A frivolous claim is one that has no substance in it and is bound to fail or on the face of it is so manifestly misconceived that it has no prospect of success: ‘If the employee knows that there is no substance in his claim and that it is bound to . .

Cited by:

CitedSimms v Conlon and Another CA 20-Dec-2006
Solicitors within a practice sued each other, and one wished to plead the fact of a finding of professional misconduct.
Held: The defendant’s appeal succeeded. It was not an abuse for the appellant to continue to assert his innocence, and the . .
CitedJohnson v Gore Wood and Co HL 14-Dec-2000
Shareholder May Sue for Additional Personal Losses
A company brought a claim of negligence against its solicitors, and, after that claim was settled, the company’s owner brought a separate claim in respect of the same subject-matter.
Held: It need not be an abuse of the court for a shareholder . .
CitedC (A Minor) v Hackney London Borough Council CA 10-Nov-1995
The mother had claimed in damages for the injuries to her health from the landlord authority’s failure to repair. Her child then brought a subsequent action in respect of his own injuries. The authority claimed the action should be stopped as res . .
CitedIn re Norris, Application by Norris HL 28-Jun-2001
The applicant’s husband had been made the subject of a drugs confiscation order. Part of this was an order against the house. She had failed in asserting that the house was hers. Her appeal to a civil court had been disallowed as an abuse. It was . .
ApprovedBalamoody v United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting CA 6-Dec-2001
The claimant had been struck from the register of nurses after convictions arising from failures of his staff at his nursing home with regard to drug management. He had then brought claims of unlawful race discrimination against the health authority . .
CitedBritish Aerospace plc v Green and Others CA 18-Apr-1995
The employer was to make 530 members of its staff redundant. Each staff member was assessed and scored. The claimants said that the method of selection was unfair, and sought disclosure of the scores of all employees.
Held: It was wrong to . .
CitedThe Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills v Weston and Another ChD 5-Sep-2014
The Secretary of State sought company director disqualification orders against the defendants saying they had been convicted of making false instruments. The Insolvency service had decided against such proceedings, and the Crown Court judge, when . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Litigation Practice, Employment

Updated: 23 March 2022; Ref: scu.248046