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Employment

Employer Support for Tribunals

Unfortunately, sometimes the working relationship breaks down to the point where a party feels the only way to resolve a workplace dispute is to go to seek a determination by an Employment Tribunal. In this situation, expert legal advice is required in order to assist with the navigation through what has become a more complicated process.

BPE’s Employment Team have extensive experience in supporting clients through the whole process, from pre-claim conciliation to Employment Tribunal and to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, assisting our clients through every step of the process. 

Irrespective of the merits of a claim, defending an Employment Tribunal claim can be a very costly and time-consuming process. Whether you are aiming for an early settlement or wish to defend a claim (for all sorts of reasons), BPE’s Employment Team will advise you on the financial liabilities and will provide detailed guidance on available defences and approaches in order to enable your business to decide the best way forward.

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The General Stages of an Employment Tribunal Claim

It’s important that when you go to an Employment Tribunal that you have an experienced team you can trust to guide you through the process and to advise on the commercial sense in every single step. Below we relay the general Employment Tribunal process and stages that a party should expect to see in an Employment Tribunal claim.

  1. Stage one:

    ACAS early conciliation. This mandatory step is required prior to bringing a claim in the Employment Tribunal. The process can last up to six weeks and is an opportunity for both parties to settle matters with the assistance of an ACAS conciliator, prior to a claim being submitted. It is important to note that parties remain free to use ACAS for settlement discussions following the expiry of the six week early conciliation period. Further details are available here https://www.acas.org.uk/early-conciliation
  2. Stage two:

    Whether you are an employee or employer, the next stage involves either submitting a claim form (called an ET1) or a response form (called an ET3). Subject to stage one, employees normally have three months from the date of the complaint to file a claim, with employers given 28 days following receipt of the ET1 to submit a response.
  3. Stage three:

    The Employment Tribunal will set out a roadmap for the management of the claim, known as case management directions. These directions will provide dates for each stage of the claim, such as exchange of disclosure documents, witness statements and whether any preliminary hearing is required prior to the final hearing on a specific point in dispute (as below) and a date for the final hearing.
  4. Stage four:

    The Employment Tribunal may request the attendance of the parties at a preliminary hearing in order to clarify claims or certain contentious points such as time limits or jurisdiction issues. Preliminary hearings usually last a single day, but in very specific circumstances can span a few days.
  5. Stage five:

    The hearing. Throughout the course of a hearing a party can either represent themselves, or be represented. The Employment Tribunal will consider evidence from both parties (written and oral). An Employment Tribunal can provide a judgment on the day if they have time to do so. Alternatively, it may provide a reserved judgment in writing in the weeks following the hearing. Further information is available here.

Considering Settlement

The vast majority of employment disputes do not reach a final hearing and are resolved via ACAS or through party-to-party mediation. Both parties are able to discuss terms of the settlement at any stage throughout the life of a claim and BPE’s Employment Team will always advise strategically  on the merits and the value of settling (or indeed, not settling), throughout the process.

After Employment Tribunal

Even after going to Employment Tribunal, a party may feel that the judgement contained an error of law or that all the relevant factors of the case were not fully assessed. Whatever the reason, consideration should often be given to an appeal of the judgment to the Employment Appeal Tribunal in order to attempt to overturn the decision.

Our Employment Team has an impressive track record in the Employment Appeal Tribunal, including involvement in leading cases within the UK and would be happy to discuss your situation, and how best to proceed.

Costs

The costs involved in an Employment Tribunal claim can vary depending on several factors including the complexity of the matter and the contributing factors including the number of witnesses that need to be interviewed, the documents and the types of claims made. BPE will always provide an accurate estimate in respect of the likely costs of defending an Employment Tribunal claim.

Get in touch

Talk to us about your legal challenges and discover how our expert, pragmatic legal advice and broad commercial acumen can help.