Issuing a Tribunal claim
The claim is started by submission of an online Claim form (ET1). Application Form online
The Respondent to the claim has 28 days of receiving the claim form to lodge a Response or Defence to your claim Form (ET3).
See the government guidance notes.
There are many Employment Tribunals situated across the UK. The Tribunal covering a claim is dictated by the area in which the Claimant worked. There are Tribunal offices in Birmingham, London, Manchester, Liverpool, Ashford, Nottingham, Cardiff, Aberdeen, Bedford, Boston, Brighton, Bristol, Burnley, Bury St Edmunds, Carlisle, Dundee, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Hull, Huntingdon, Inverness, Kendal, Leeds, Leicester, Lincoln, Newcastle, Norwich, Reading, Sheffield, Shrewsbury, Southampton, Teeside, Telford and Watford. We represent Claimants in all of these Employment Tribunal offices throughout the UK. Contact details for all these Employment Tribunal offices can be found here
Tribunal Procedure – what to expect?
After the Tribunal claim has been issued online, the Tribunal post a copy of the claim form (called a Form ET1) to the Respondent.
The Respondent then has 28 days in which to submit their Defence to your claim (called a Form ET3).
The Tribunal then send a copy of the ET3 to the Claimant or their Representative. This sets out the basis on which the Respondent intends to defend the claim and provides their response to it.
If the case involves discrimination or something other than straightforward Unfair Dismissal or Breach of Contract, the Tribunal may list it for a Case Management Hearing (called a CMD) to clarify the issues in this case. This is not the substantive hearing of the case and no evidence will be given at this hearing. The Tribunal will then issue an Order and Directions following the hearing setting out the issues in the case and the timetable to be followed to take the case to Final Hearing.
These directions may include:
- Disclosure of Documents;
- Preparation of an agreed paginated hearing bundle;
- Exchange of witness statements.
Disclosure of Documents – is where each party provides the other with a copy of all documents in their possession relevant to any issues in the case. This is often accompanied by a list to show what documents have been disclosed. A party has a legal duty to disclose all such documents in their possession whether they help their case or their opponent’s case. You are not allowed to selectively bury documents and omit to disclose them if you think they may harm your case.
Agreed paginated bundle. The Tribunal will need one agreed and paginated and indexed bundle comprising both parties’ disclosure documents along with the Tribunal claim, Defence and Tribunal Orders. This is usually prepared by the Respondent or their Representative.
Exchange of Witness Statements. Each party has to prepare typed witness statements for each of their witnesses that they intend to call at the final hearing to give evidence to support their case. These statements are pre-prepared and represent the evidence that each witness intends to give on oath. They should include all the evidence that witnesses can give as the Tribunal usually take those statements as read and will not permit additional evidence to be given by the witness. They must also cross reference any documents that appear in the bundle by pagination number. The parties then exchange witness statements with each other before any final hearing takes place. This means that each party knows in advance what their opponent will say at Tribunal. This assists the parties to take a view and potentially settle the case before the Final Hearing.
Final Hearing. The Tribunal will have listed the case for a final hearing. In more complex cases, the Tribunal will already have set out a timetable for the final hearing at the CMD. This may provide for Tribunal reading time and then set out which witnesses will give evidence followed by summing up and Tribunal deliberations.
Each side call their witnesses who take the oath or affirm and confirm that their witness statement is true. The witnesses do not usually have to read it out as it is taken as read by the Tribunal. The witnesses are then usually cross examined by the other side or their representative by asking them questions and may refer them to documents in the Tribunal bundle. The Tribunal may then ask the witness questions before allowing the witnesses representative to ask further questions by way of re-examination on any issues arising out of cross examination or Tribunal questions. The witness is them stood down and the next witness called. This happens until all witnesses from both sides have given evidence. The parties then present their summing up of their case and the evidence that has been given before the Tribunal deliberate and deliver their decision by way of a Judgement.
If successful, the Tribunal move to consider remedy usually compensation.
The importance of having professional representation
A note of caution – putting emotion and principle to one side, Employment Tribunals do come up with some very odd decisions and to this extent both Claimant and Respondent are at risk as to what the ultimate outcome will be. Cases “that should win”, lose and cases that “should fail”, win. On many occasions witnesses do not come up to proof, which means that their evidence on the stand deviates from their pre-prepared statements which causes issues as to credibility and can fatally undermine the case.
To ensure you maximise your chances of success you should really seek the services of a specialist Employment Law Solicitor to represent you in this complex area of law.
Call 0800 612 9509 or complete one of our online contact forms.