Stella vs. Sugar: The Bitter End

Tom Moyes

Tom Moyes

The final battle between Lord Sugar and Stella English has left the Apprentice star ‘over the moon’ that she has not had to pay the £50,000 legal costs after losing the claim against Sugar for constructive dismissal.

Following the case from the beginning, the 2010 winner claimed the show was a sham after resigning from her job. The allegations were denied by Sugar who stated she knew exactly what her role entailed.

The tribunal described the constructive dismissal that English brought against Sugar as a ‘claim that should have never been brought.’ The case was dismissed, seeing no evidence to support her statements. Sugar took to twitter to celebrate his, ‘victory’ and declared her as ‘money grabbing’ and the process as a ‘derisory smear attempt.’

In a predicted turn of events Lord Sugar demonstrated his reputation as ‘Britain’s Most Belligerent Boss.’ His company made a bid for the legal costs of £50,000, a hefty sum for the unemployed mother of two.

Costs orders remain the exception rather than the rule…

However it was Stella had a victory of sorts in this final legal clash, as the tribunal believed she had a genuine case. Although rare, an employment tribunal can order costs to be paid if it’s believed the claimant acted dishonestly and/or brought the case on false facts. Fortunately for Stella, they found this not to be to be the case, as her lawyer denies the claim was ‘motivated by malicious or bad intentions.’

Costs do not “follow the event” in Employment Tribunals as they do in civil courts. In other words, if a party is successful in bringing or defending a claim, the tribunal will not necessarily make an order that the unsuccessful party pays their costs. Costs have traditionally been viewed as “the exception rather than the rule” (Gee v Shell UK Ltd [2003] IRLR 82). English’s current financial status has reduced significantly and will have been a factor in deciding whether or not to award Lord Sugar costs.

Her lawyer also stated how she, not unsurprisingly, was happy to put the ordeal behind her. Clearly this was not the result she was expecting when she originally sought compensation.

The End

The Employment Tribunal had stated she did not bring the original claim against Lord Sugar’s company motivated by malice or bad intentions. Now that this very public mess is over and there are no claims left, hopefully both parties will cut all ties with one another and move on.

Tom Moyes
Employment Department 
0113 2279238

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