Douglas Borough Council lost £24,255 in legal fees in a failed employment tribunal case against road worker William Pye, according to new records uncovered by the Manx TaxPayers’ Alliance under Freedom of Information Act protections.
“It is not good value for money to spend tens of thousands of pounds on legal fees to fight over a relatively small amount. If Douglas Borough Council were genuinely concerned over £3,500 being paid to a relatively lowly paid road worker in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, they should be positively outraged over £24,000 being paid to lawyers on this losing case,” said Michael Josem of the Manx TaxPayers’ Alliance.
In the case before the employment tribunal, Manx Radio reported that “Douglas Borough Council has been ordered to pay a worker of 36 years more than £5,000 after losing an employment tribunal. It ruled William Pye, a gully operative, had suffered unlawful deductions from his salary... Despite obtaining sick notes from his doctor, the Council stopped paying him as it attempted to claw back what it alleged was overpayment of wages.“
Manx Radio reported that the Douglas Borough Council wrongly deducted more than £3,500 from My Pye, and four-weeks salary was also awarded to the complainant as part of the compensation package, meaning a final sum of £5,208.54 was paid to Mr Pye.
The new records uncovered by the Manx TaxPayers’ Alliance reveal that to fight this dispute over £3,500, the Council spent £24,255 in legal fees, and a penalty of £1,886, for a total of £26,141 paid to lawyers for the council.
In an email to the Manx TaxPayers’ Alliance, Paul Cowin of Douglas Borough Council confirmed:
“The principal costs to the Council were legal fees as set out in the invoices submitted by the Council’s Advocate. These amounted in total to £24,255, made up from three separate invoices of £4,070, £16,300 and £3,885 respectively.
The cost of the award to the employee was £1,672.36 and that entailed 12.8% Employer’s NI Contribution bringing the total to £1,886.
No other costs were incurred by the Council in connection with the case.
The total cost to the Council was therefore £26,141.”