Our team of employment solicitors have a successful track record in fighting hard cases and managing any reputational risk to your business. We regularly represent our clients in Employment Tribunal, High Court and County Court litigation cases and we work with both individuals and employers. Our team includes highly experienced employment law advocates who regularly attend Employment Tribunals throughout the UK.
What is an Employment Tribunal?
Employment tribunals are tribunal public bodies which have statutory jurisdiction to hear many different kinds of disputes between employers and employees. They are adjudicated by a legally qualified Employment Judge, who may sit alone, or with two lay members with appropriate experience.
Some common disputes heard by employment tribunals include unfair dismissal, redundancy payments and employment discrimination. Complaints may range from disability discrimination, to racial discrimination, sexual harassment, belief discrimination and equal pay. Employment lawyers may also deal with disputes that arise from failure to consult and inform on collective redundancies.
Nearly all legal cases about employment are heard in Employment Tribunals.
The start of an Employment Tribunal claim
When a business receives an ET1 claim form, they must file a response using an ET3 form, normally within 28 days, unless a time extension is applied for and granted. If the business feels that they need more information regarding the claim, they can ask for disclosure or more particulars by writing to the claimant.
Submitting a response
Having submitted a response, an employer will consider whether to seek further particulars of the claimant’s case. Often an Employment Tribunal will convene a pre-hearing review which will consider whether any aspects of the claimant’s case have little or no reasonable prospects of success and set out further directions for the conduct of the case, including setting a hearing date.
Employment Tribunal hearings can be listed very quickly, within 4-6 months of commencement of the claim. Employment Tribunals often set tight timescales for disclosure of documentation and exchange of witness statements.
Evidence is typically presented at Employment Tribunals by the use of written witness statements. However, although Employment Tribunals are often less formal than other types of court proceedings, evidence is still provided on oath and parties are expected to follow certain procedures in the way their cases are presented.
All witnesses, both for the employer and employee, can be cross-examined by the representative of the opposing party. Cross-examination is a skill and can be key to the effective presentation of a case. Once all the witness evidence has been heard, the parties make submissions and the Employment Tribunal will normally retire to consider its decision. Sometimes a decision is handed down at the hearing but sometimes, particularly with more complex cases, an Employment Tribunal adjourns the hearing to enable it to provide its decision in writing to the parties.
What if the claim is unsuccessful?
If the business is unsuccessful, an Employment Tribunal can award compensation. The maximum compensation that can be awarded for unfair dismissal is typically a year’s gross salary or up to £78,335 whichever is less. Compensation is potentially unlimited in cases of discrimination and/or involving claims of “whistleblowing”.
If an individual is unsuccessful at an Employment Tribunal, an appeal can be made to the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) within 14 days of the issue of the Employment Tribunal decision. However, appeals can only proceed if the appealing party can establish that the original Employment Tribunal decision was either perverse, or there has been an error of law. An appeal cannot be progressed simply because the Employment Tribunal has made findings of fact with which you do not agree. It is, therefore, very important to ensure that the case is well presented and argued before the Employment Tribunal.
How can we help?
If you are an employer who has received a claim, at Harding Evans we can offer help and advice to reach the resolution that you feel is fair and just, whether that involves representing you at Employment Tribunals and in court or advising you on ways to avoid Employment Tribunals and court through preventative measures, such as conciliation, mediation and the use of settlement agreements.
Get in touch with our expert team today by clicking here.