What does the term Mitigate mean?

From a legal perspective, mitigate is a fancy way of saying “minimise”. It refers to the obligation of an individual (normally a claimant) to minimise ongoing loss or suffering they are experiencing.

Judges will often tell claimants that “you can’t sit on your hands”. What they mean by this is that, a claimant must be proactive in trying to mitigate (or minimise) any ongoing loss or suffering.

For example, in a personal injury context, where an individual has suffered an injury and they are bringing a claim. They are obliged to take whatever steps they can in order to get better and recover from their injuries. That might mean attending a physiotherapist, occupational therapists etc. They need to take charge of their situation. If the Judge is of the opinion that the claimant has not been proactive in their recovery, he/she may reduce their award accordingly.

In an employment law context, where an employee brings a claim against an employer for unfair dismissal, the amount of the employees’ loss will depend on whether or not they are still unemployed and suffering loss (of earnings) at the date of the adjudication. A prudent employee would be able to produce evidence demonstrating their efforts to seek alternative employment. Such as copies of letters to prospective employers enclosing their CV. An employee who has made no efforts to find alternative employment, and is deemed to be waiting for a “payday” may not be awarded as much. They would receive more had they been proactive in mitigating their loss.

Employment law can be difficult to navigate. If you have questions about this specific term or any others, contact us.