Employment Tribunal Representation

Employment Tribunal Representation

Unfortunately, there are times when going to or facing an Employment Tribunal (previously called an Industrial Tribunal) is unavoidable and often not within your control. If internal procedures, put in place by your grievance and disciplinary policies, have been exhausted and a dispute remains or if the matter complained of is unlawful, in other words discrimination, the employment dispute may proceed to the Employment Tribunal. 

You only have 28 days in which to lodge a defence to any claim. Given the strict timescales involved, you should seek immediate legal advice on receiving an Employment Tribunal claim, and you need to be prepared for what can be a lengthy, costly and stressful experience. 

Dealing with the tribunal process

A range of claims can be heard by Employment Tribunals, and there are certain steps employers need to follow with each case: 

Employment tribunal process

Before a claim can be lodged at the Employment Tribunal, employees are required to notify the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) and start mandatory pre-claim conciliation. ACAS will then enrol you into early conciliation. During early conciliation, parties are invited to see if matters can be resolved with an impartial ACAS conciliator, who will facilitate discussion to encourage resolution. 

The conciliation period normally lasts for four weeks but can be extended for a further two if the parties are close to agreement. The time limits for bringing a claim may be extended depending on when the conciliation process was started. Employees can only progress to the tribunal process if they have received an early conciliation certificate, which evidences their participation in the conciliation process.

Following the submission of a claim, both parties are invited to present their case to the tribunal.  Both parties will be given the opportunity to present their case to the judge; this involves providing evidence from written documents and questioning witnesses. Throughout proceedings you should expect to receive questions from the judge and from the other party to the dispute.

After all evidence has been presented and both parties have had the opportunity to put their case to the tribunal, the judge will retire to consider their decision. You will normally receive the decision by post following the hearing, but on some occasions a decision is reached at the hearing. 

Types of issues covered at a tribunal

The Employment Tribunal can hear a wide range of employment-related claims, including: unfair dismissal, discrimination, national minimum wage, equal pay, whistleblowing, claims under the Working Time Regulations and unlawful deductions from wages to name a few.   

The Employment Tribunal also has limited authority to hear claims for breach of contract if the employee’s employment has terminated. Some claims can be brought not just by employees but by a wider category of people called workers.

Appeals

The Employment Appeal Tribunal is an independent tribunal, adjudicating on appeals from the Employment Tribunal. There are limited circumstances where you can lodge an appeal and you cannot lodge an appeal simply because you are not happy with the initial decision of the Employment Tribunal. An appeal may be made if the Employment Tribunal made an error in law or if their decision, based on the facts of the case, would not have been reached by any other Employment Tribunal.  

Employment Tribunal costs

Employees have to pay a fee for lodging the claim (a ‘claim fee’) and a further fee if the case proceeds to a hearing (‘a hearing fee’).  

This table below sets out the Employment Tribunal fees payable for different types of claim.

Type of Case

Claim Fee

Hearing Fee

Unpaid wages

£160

£230

Redundancy pay

£160

£230

Breach of contract

£160

£230

Unfair dismissal

£250

£950

Equal pay

£250

£950

Discrimination

£250

£950

Whistleblowing

£250

£950

 

At present employers do not pay a fee to defend a claim. In addition to the fees which employees have to pay both sides   will incur the cost of acquiring legal advice and representation. This sum will vary depending on the complexity and individual circumstances of the claim.  If the employee is successful, the employer will be ordered to repay any tribunal fees the employee has incurred.

Either party can appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, although there are limited grounds on which an appeal can be made. This will incur another set of tribunal fees. The cost of lodging an appeal is £400 and the cost of a hearing in the Employment Appeal Tribunal is £1,200. The appeal will be struck out if you fail to pay these fees.

Cost is always a material consideration before deciding to bring or defend a claim in the Employment Tribunal. The costs can rack up very quickly and, unlike the civil courts, there is no guarantee that you will be able to recover your costs from the other party if you win your case.

How can Thorntons help?

Our experienced Employment Law team can lead you through the tribunal process from start to finish, preparing you for what will take place and robustly representing your interests throughout.

From their years of reviewing, drafting and implementing suitable employment policies in a variety of workplaces, our Employment Law Solicitors have the necessary skills to minimise the risks for the employer resulting from a claim and will deliver advice appropriate to your needs.

We have extensive experience in representing clients in tribunal and can guide you smoothly through the process. We can also provide witness familiarisation training in advance to help employees feel more comfortable when attending a tribunal and help them understand what to expect.

In most employment situations taking legal advice early on can often stop the situation from escalating and will save you time and money later. With our proactive and commercial advice, Thorntons Employment Law team can help find the right solution for you over Employment Tribunal issues. Give one of our team a call on 03330 430 350 , or complete our online enquiry form and we will contact you.

Useful Information

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