Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s battle with Peter Bloxham, a former partner who unsuccessfully sued for age discrimination, took a new twist this week when the firm said that they would pursue him for their legal costs.
Freshfields, who won a unanimous victory last month, confirmed that they had written to the Employment Tribunal raising the issue of costs.
This is rare in employment cases, a fact that led employment lawyers today to speculate that the firm may be using the threat of costs to discourage Mr Bloxham from making an appeal.
The lawyers said it was “standard practice” to use cost applications as a form of “gentle persuasion”.
They suggested Freshfields may quietly drop the issue if Mr Bloxham decides not to appeal. The deadline is in two weeks.
Mr Bloxham has not indicated whether he will appeal but, in a statement today, his lawyers said that he would “vigorously” defend the “wholly misconceived” costs application.
Freshfields said they had filed their costs application in line with the relevant deadline and declined to comment on their reasons or the amount of money they are seeking.
Under tribunal rules, the firm had until Tuesday to apply for Mr Bloxham to pay for their defence.
Employment tribunal cases differ from regular court hearings in that the winning side can apply for costs only if aspects of the claim were “misconceived” or “unreasonably pursued”. It is understood that Freshfields has applied for costs against Mr Bloxham on both grounds.