UPDATE – DECISON – see below
UCU is in court again today looking to make Ronnie Fraser pay hundreds of thousands of pounds for daring to challenge its antisemitism.
The original tribunal, led by Judge Snelson, found that claims of institutional antisemitism in the UCU were all baseless and that Fraser was raising the issue of antisemitism in bad faith in order to get an underhand advantage in the Israel/Palestine debate.
The Snelson tribunal later recused itself from hearing UCU’s action against Fraser for costs on the basis that its own judgment had already over-reached itself because it made claims which were arguably prejudicial to the costs hearing.
UCU insisted that a new tribunal should be convened to hear its action for costs. Fraser and his lawyers argued that a costs hearing could only be fair if it went over the issues of the case again and in detail to show that Fraser’s claim was not only lost – but to show to a quite different standard that it was also vexatious or entirely inappropriate – that Fraser should have known that he would lose.
Fraser’s lawyers argued that the law was clear – that a costs hearing could only be held if it could be a summary hearing and if the issues were straightforward. In this case, a long hearing would be necessary to go over much of the evidence again (for the new tribunal), to look at the relationships between Fraser and his lawyers and to look at whether each issue raised was so inappropriate as to be a waste of the court’s time.
Today Fraser’s lawyers are appealing this ruling. They are arguing that a fair hearing for costs would need to go over all the counts and issues of the original case again because they would be being heard by a new tribunal and against new criteria. Witnesses would have to be re-heard and new witnesses called. If there cannot be a summary hearing then the law says, they argue, that there cannot be a costs hearing at all.
UPDATE – DECISON:
NB this was a hearing to gain leave to appeal this previous decision to allow a summary hearing of costs, it was not the appeal itself.
The Appeal Judge did not give leave to appeal. He refused to overrule the lower Judge’s determination that a fair hearing for costs can be carried out in two days.
In a verbal judgment, he seemed explicitly to close ranks with the lower Employment Tribunal Judges. He gratuitously praiseed the Snelson Judgment, saying that it was “very well written”. He quoted, apparently approvingly, the most trenchant and absurd paragraphs of the Snelson judgment, the ones which led to the recusal. He praised the chair of the new tribunal Judge Wade’s decision that a fair hearing for costs can be carried out in one day of reading and one day of argument, with no new evidence, no witnesses, relying mainly on the Snelson judgment which itself went far beyond its remit in the determination of facts and offered opinion about the bad faith, underhand intentions and wastefulness of the whole action.
The hearing for costs will take place next Wednesday, the first day of Channukah. Nobody is expecting a miracle.