When an employment law dispute arises, both parties are likely to incur legal costs as they seek legal advice and representation. In Canada, the general rule is that each party is responsible for their own legal costs, regardless of the outcome of the case. However, there are situations where courts may order one party to pay some or all of the other party’s legal costs.
The courts have the discretion to award legal costs to the successful party in a lawsuit. The purpose of awarding legal costs is to partially compensate the successful party for their expenses and to discourage frivolous or unreasonable legal claims. However, the courts will only award legal costs in certain circumstances, and the amount of costs awarded is typically less than the actual legal expenses incurred.
In employment law cases, the courts may award legal costs to the successful party if they find that the other party acted unreasonably, frivolously, or vexatiously in pursuing the claim or defense. For example, if an employer knowingly violated an employee’s rights and then defended the claim without merit, the court may order the employer to pay some or all of the employee’s legal costs.
Another factor that the courts consider when awarding legal costs is the conduct of the parties during the legal proceedings. If one party has engaged in misconduct, such as withholding evidence or delaying the proceedings, the court may order that party to pay some or all of the other party’s legal costs.
It’s important to note that the courts do not always award legal costs to the successful party, even if the other party acted unreasonably or engaged in misconduct. The decision to award costs is at the discretion of the judge and is based on the circumstances of each case.
Employers and HR professionals should be aware of the potential for legal costs in employment law cases and take steps to minimize the risk of being ordered to pay the other party’s legal costs. This can include ensuring that their employment policies and practices comply with applicable laws, conducting thorough investigations into allegations of misconduct, and seeking legal advice early in the process to avoid unnecessary litigation.
In conclusion, while courts in Canada generally follow the rule that each party is responsible for their own legal costs, there are situations where the court may order one party to pay some or all of the other party’s legal costs. Employers and HR professionals should be aware of the circumstances where legal costs may be awarded and take steps to minimize the risk of being ordered to pay the other party’s costs. By doing so, they can help ensure a fair and just outcome for all parties involved in an employment law dispute.