The Employment Tribunal Process: From Start to Finish
- Employment Law
- 7th Nov 2023
The Employment Tribunal process can appear daunting for an employer. Understanding the sequence of events is crucial to managing expectations and ensuring a smoother journey through the legal system. In this blog, we’ll guide you through the Employment Tribunal process from start to finish, offering an overview of what to expect at each stage. […]
By Gareth MatthewsMLP Law
The Employment Tribunal process can appear daunting for an employer. Understanding the sequence of events is crucial to managing expectations and ensuring a smoother journey through the legal system.
In this blog, we’ll guide you through the Employment Tribunal process from start to finish, offering an overview of what to expect at each stage.
- ACAS Early Conciliation
Most Employment Tribunal claims begin with the optional step of ACAS Early Conciliation. Before a claimant can submit a claim to the Employment Tribunal, they must notify ACAS, who will aim to facilitate a resolution between the parties before the matter proceeds to a formal claim.
- Claim Submission
If the dispute is not resolved at ACAS Early Conciliation stage, the formal proceedings will commence the submission of a claim. A Claimant (the person bringing the claim) files an ET1 form with the Employment Tribunal, outlining the details of their complaint.
- Acknowledgment and Response
Upon receipt, the Employment Tribunal will acknowledge the claim and notify the Respondent (typically the employer). The Respondent must then submit their response using an ET3 form, in most cases within 28 days.
- Case Management
After the response is filed, the Employment Tribunal will take over the management of the case. This will include scheduling and managing key dates, such as deadlines for submitting documents and witness statements.
- Preliminary Hearings (if necessary)
In some cases, a preliminary hearing may be held to address specific issues or disputes, or to discuss the case management timetable referred to above. These hearings help streamline the main tribunal process by resolving any procedural matters and setting a clear schedule for the progression of more complex claims.
- Exchange of evidence
The Claimant and Respondent are required to exchange all relevant evidence in their possession. This can include anything from meeting notes and correspondence to CCTV footage and WhatsApp messages. As the parties are obliged to provide all evidence which is relevant to the issues in the claim, this can also require the parties to disclose evidence which is damaging to their case.
The evidence exchanged allows the Employment Tribunal to assess the strength of the evidence, scrutinise the parties’ arguments, and make informed decisions based on a complete and accurate picture of the situation.
- Witness Statements
Witness statements play a pivotal role in Employment Tribunal claims as they provide firsthand accounts of the events and circumstances leading to the dispute. These statements are crucial because they serve as evidence presented by individuals who have direct knowledge of the case, such as people who observed key events or who made key decisions (such as disciplinary decisions).
Witness statements help in establishing the facts, corroborating or refuting the claims made by either party, and ultimately influencing the Employment Tribunal’s decision. Witness statements can significantly impact the outcome of a case, making them a vital tool in ensuring a fair and just resolution in Employment Tribunal claims.
- The Final Hearing
The final hearing is where the heart of the matter is addressed. It’s here that both parties present their case, and witnesses may be called upon to present their evidence and face cross-examination. The Employment Tribunal will evaluate the evidence and arguments before making a judgment.
The final hearing represents the culmination of the parties’ efforts to make their case and is where the Employment Tribunal’s decision, which can have substantial legal and financial consequences, is reached.
- The Judgment and Remedy
The Employment Tribunal issues its judgment at the conclusion of, or following, the final hearing. The judgment typically outlines the reasoning behind the Employment Tribunal’s decision, and in many cases, or on request, the Employment Tribunal will provide its reasons in writing.
If the claim is successful, the Employment Tribunal may also confirm the remedy which is being awarded, although it is also common for this to be determined at a separate Remedy Hearing. The remedies available in Employment Tribunal include compensation, reinstatement, or re-engagement and the actual remedy awarded will depend on the circumstances and the outcome sought by the Claimant.
- Appeals (if applicable)
Appeals are relatively rare in Employment Tribunal claims, although either the Claimant or the Respondent is entitled to appeal if they believe the Employment Tribunal made a legal error in reaching its decision. Parties are not entitled to appeal simply because they are unhappy with the Employment Tribunal’s decision. Appeals against decisions made by the Employment Tribunal are heard by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) and appeals beyond the EAT are also possible in certain circumstances.
We hope this blog will equip you with a good understanding of what the Employment Tribunal process entails, from the moment you are contacted by ACAS during the Early Conciliation process until the Employment Tribunal hands down its judgment.
mlplaw is here to support you throughout the Employment Tribunal journey and ensure you have expert representation every step of the way. Contact us today on 0161 929 9969 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation and ensure you give your business the best chance of successfully defending an Employment Tribunal claim.
About the expert
Stephen is the Owner of MLP Law and leads our Commercial, IP and Dispute Resolution teams which provide advice on all aspects of the law relating to mergers, acquisitions, financing, re-structuring, complex commercial contracts, standard trading terms, share options, shareholder and partnership agreements, commercial dispute resolution, joint venture and partnering arrangements, IT and Technology law, Intellectual Property, EU and competition law, Brexit and GDPR.
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