Going to a Tribunal can be a daunting experience – even when you are sure that the claim issued against you has no merit. Tribunal claims also involve a significant amount of management time which can be kept to a minimum if you instruct experts such as Premier Legal to represent you. Instructing our employment tribunal solicitors to act on your behalf enables you to concentrate on running your business safe in the knowledge that we will act in your best interests at all times to achieve the best possible outcome for you.
We will talk you through every step, explaining each stage in plain English so that nothing comes as a surprise on the day. We will always look at whether we consider it advisable for you to reach a settlement instead of defending a claim at tribunal. This will involve analysing the case and the prospects of success and evaluating the risks to your business in defending a claim all the way to a hearing. Factors to consider include the amount of management time that is likely to be involved in attending tribunal, reputational risk to your business (tribunal hearings are public and are often reported in the media) and the financial risk including liability for compensation and the legal costs involved in resisting a claim.
Every stage of a tribunal case from preparation and service of the ET3 (defence) through to agreement of a bundle of documents, witness statements and the trial itself will be handled by a lawyer with years of experience – you know you are in safe hands with us. We have an excellent track record of success at tribunals from Ashford to Aberdeen.
Employment Tribunals were introduced in the 1970s with the aim of providing a quick, informal and inexpensive forum for resolving employment disputes. However, the employment tribunal system and employment legislation have both evolved significantly over the years and the scope of employment law has become increasingly complex. Practice and procedure in the employment tribunal is governed mainly by the Employment Tribunals Rules of Procedure and The Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2013. In addition, there is a vast amount of case law and European legislation that applies in the UK tribunals. Consequently, employment tribunals are no longer quick, informal and inexpensive. Any employer faced with an employment tribunal claim is well advised to consult an expert employment lawyer at the earliest opportunity and preferably before responding to the claim. Claims involving allegations of unlawful discrimination, the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 or public interest disclosure are particularly complicated and will involve multi day hearings.
Our Employer Protection Scheme can also insure against the costs associated with tribunals, including the advocacy costs, settlement costs and in the rare event that a claim against you succeeds, awards of compensation made against you will also be covered.
Employment tribunals have changed over the years and have probably moved on from their own stated objective of being an informal way to solve disputes. Far from being informal there is a set of regulation which must be adhered to and which can catch out the unwary. There is a good deal of preparation that needs to be done before you even reach the doors of the tribunal, documents must be exchanged and agreed, witness statements need to be prepared and exchanged and often both parties are asked to prepare skeleton arguments. There may be Preliminary Hearings to discuss points of law, jurisdictional issues and to provide case management orders then assuming all is sorted the day of the hearing arrives.
At the hearing there will be a single judge, unless it is a discrimination matter in which case the judge will be assisted by two lay members who together form the tribunal. The employment judge will sit on a raised stage at the front of the hearing room and the claimant and respondent and their reps will sit at a table in front of the judge. There will be seats at the back of the hearing room for members of the public to sit and watch proceedings, this, of course, is so that justice can be seen to be done. Then there will be a separate desk for the witnesses to be sworn in, sit and give their evidence. One interesting recent change is that judges read the witness statements before the start of the hearing, this means that the start is often delayed, but that the cross examination is the first part of the hearing. This is one of the reasons why the witness statement is so important, it is the only opportunity to provide the tribunal with your side of the story.
Once all of the evidence has been heard, both sides are given the opportunity to make closing submissions before the judge or the tribunal retire to consider their verdict. This can be a particularly nerve racking time as we have to sit and wait for the results. On occasions, especially in very complicated cases which have lots of evidence, the judge will send the parties away and send the decision in writing at a later date.
Inevitably because of the new rules on employment tribunal fees, if the respondent employer loses the case the cost of those fees will be added to any remedy received by the claimant employee.
Tribunal hearings can take as little as an hour and as long as a month, but the average is around two or three days. It can be quite a daunting process so it is important that you have a good team on your side.
Call our employment tribunal solicitors for advice on 0207 408 9427 or 0115 856 1625.