The University of Otago has been ordered to pay $7000 legal
costs in the case of a former staff member found to have been
The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) ordered the
university to pay legal costs, after it last year found
former head of marketing services Kerry Kirkland was
unjustifiably dismissed and unjustifiably disadvantaged by
the university - ordering it to pay $12,465.75 for lost wages
and emotional damages.
In a written decision, ERA member David Appleton rejected the
university's argument costs should ''lie where they fall'' or
be significantly lower than $7000 - which was the normal
amount of costs given for a two-day ERA case.
Counsel for university argued it should either pay no or
reduced legal costs on the basis Dr Kirkland had considered
challenging the decision - meaning she was not the successful
party - and the bulk of time at the investigation meeting was
spent on allegations not upheld by the ERA.
He also rejected calls from Dr Kirkland's counsel for legal
costs of $26,099.23. Dr Kirkland's counsel had argued for the
increased amount due to a number of factors including the
''complexity'' of the case and because it was ''daunting'' to
fight an organisation such as the university.
In rejecting arguments from both parties, Mr Appleton said he
saw no ''cogent reason'' to either award a greater or reduced
amount than the normal daily tariff of $3500 a day -
totalling $7000 for a two-day case.
The case was no more complex than many unjustified dismissal
cases and while Dr Kirkland was not ''wholly successful'',
she was still the successful party, he said.