Hargreaves v Evolve Housing & Ors [2023] EAT 154

Appeal against the striking out of the Claimant's claims on the basis that the manner in which he had conducted proceedings had been scandalous, unreasonable and vexatious. Appeal allowed in part.

The First Respondent is a charitable housing organisation which supports homeless and vulnerable people in London by which the Claimant was employed as a Supported Housing Night Concierge Worker, from 22 October 2018 to 8 February 2021, on which date he was summarily dismissed for gross misconduct. At all material times the Second Respondent was a board member of the First Respondent, a role which is voluntary and unpaid. In February 2020, the Claimant had submitted various grievances against six managers of the First Respondent seeking their dismissal. Of his 34 complaints only one relatively minor complaint was upheld. The Claimant was successful at the liability hearing but continued to pursue compensation in a way that the ET described as being about damaging or destroying the business of the First Respondent and the political career of the Second Respondent, and generally inflicting as much damage as he possibly could on the Second Respondent’s colleagues and the party. His intent was to vilify and publicly humiliate the Respondents. The compensation claims were struck out by the ET on the basis of vexatious behaviour by the Claimant and because the ET believed a fair trial was not possible as prospective witness for the Respondents would be fearful of giving evidence or intimidated by the Claimant. The Claimant appealed.

The EAT allowed the appeal in part. Of the five grounds of appeal advanced, only one succeeded; the ET had erred in finding that, as a result of the Claimant’s conduct, a fair trial was not possible, and in striking out the claim. The ET had received no evidence from any prospective witness for the Respondents to the effect that he or she was fearful of giving evidence, or of involvement in the claim, or intimidated by the Claimant. The claims would be reinstated and remitted for an open preliminary hearing at which all necessary directions enabling the matter to proceed to a substantive hearing would be considered.


Published: 29/02/2024 12:14

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