The prospect of starting and then pursuing a claim in the Employment Tribunal may be a daunting one as hopefully it is an experience most people will not have needed to become familiar with. The process and particularly the hearing are slightly less formal than a court but there are still procedures to follow.
If you have been made redundant or have experienced any other issues with your employment you might have a case. If we think that your claim has prospects of success and you have no other funding arrangements available to you we may be able to help you on a no-win, no-fee basis.
The first thing to do is make sure that the time limit for bringing a claim has not passed. The general rule for claims in the Employment Tribunal is that you must have submitted your claim within 3 months less one day of the event/incident that you are complaining of. So for example if you are dismissed or are discriminated against on 24th June then you would need to have ensured that you have submitted your claim by no later than 23rd September.
From 6th April 2014 the initial steps for making a claim in the Employment Tribunal have changed. Now you have to register your claim with ACAS before you are able to issue a claim to the Employment Tribunal. You must do this within the 3 month time limit referred to above. Once you have done this ACAS will contact your (former) employer to discuss whether there is any prospect of trying to resolve your complaint without the need to submit a claim to the Employment Tribunal. The time period for ACAS to assist with trying to resolve the matter will be 1 month which effectively “stops the clock” on your limitation period. If you successfully agree to settle your claim then that will be the end of the matter. If, however, you are not able to agree on a solution, or your employer does not want to enter into discussions about trying to resolve your complaint, then ACAS will issue you with a certificate to confirm that you have registered your claim with them and you will have at least 1 month from ACAS issuing your certificate to submit your claim.
Once the ACAS Early Conciliation Period has come to an end, submitting your claim requires you to submit the ET1 Form to the Employment Tribunal.
Yes. From July 2013 fees were introduced for Employment Tribunal claims. To issue your claim you will need to pay either £160 or £250 depending on the type of claim you are bringing. Claims such as breach of contract or claims for unpaid wages attract the £160 fee and claims such as unfair dismissal or discrimination claims are subject to the £250 fee.
If your claim goes to a hearing then around a month before the hearing, you will have to pay an additional hearing fee of either £230 or £950 again depending on the type of claim you have made.
If you are in receipt of certain benefits such as Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income Support then you will be entitled to “fee remission” which means that you will not have to pay the fees detailed above. Also, if your gross monthly income is below a certain level then you may be entitled to a full or partial reduction in the fee that you have to pay.
The Employment Tribunal has the power to order the Respondent to pay the issue and hearing fees that you have paid to you in addition to any compensation that you are awarded if you are successful. It is unlikely that you will be entitled to the repayment of the fees that you have paid should you lose at the final hearing.
Once your claim has been accepted then your (former) employer, or Respondent as they are referred to, has 28 days in which to submit their response form (ET3).
After this then the Employment Tribunal will either send a letter to you and the Respondent setting down a timetable of all the tasks you have to carry out in preparation of the hearing and when they have to be done by or arrange a Preliminary Hearing to decide these tasks and dates as well as any other preliminary issues such as whether you are a disabled person or not or whether you were an employee.
The types of task that need to be done ahead of any hearing will usually include:
Preparing a Schedule of Loss setting out how much compensation you are claiming
Providing the Respondent with all the documents that you have relating to your case and them providing you with all the documents that they have
Providing a Witness Statement for you and any other witnesses you want to give evidence at the hearing
Arranging for the preparation of an indexed bundle to be used at the hearing
As explained above, the hearing is a little less formal than a court hearing. Depending on the complexity of your claim it will either be dealt with by an Employment Judge on their own or a Tribunal panel consisting of an Employment Judge and two lay members.
More often the tribunal will read your witness statement and the key documents just before your hearing and so you may not have to read your statement out. You will, however, be cross-examined by the Respondent or their representative and the Tribunal may also have some questions for you. You will be given the opportunity to cross-examine the Respondent’s witnesses. At the end of the hearing you will be given the opportunity to sum up the key pieces of evidence and refer the Tribunal to previous cases or legislation that support your claim.
The Tribunal will then take some time to consider the evidence they have heard and either provide you with the outcome to your claim there and then or send it to you in writing.
Most likely, yes. Of the 190,000+ cases that were issued in 2012/2013, 33% of claims settled through the assistance of ACAS. Of the remaining 67% of claims, only 11% of those made it to a final hearing and were successful.
The time it takes to get from issuing your claim to a final hearing is getting shorter due to there being fewer claims being made at the moment. Even so, you can expect the process to take around 6 months from start to finish.
If you would like further advice and assistance on any of the above please do not hesitate to contact the Employment team on 0800 433 2255
No win No fee Employment Tribunal Solicitors
Most people are rightly concerned about the cost of seeking advice from a solicitor in relation to their claim. If you are facing uncertainty in your employment or you have just lost your job, then money will no doubt be of concern to you.
Many solicitors charge an hourly rate, but at SSB Law we do things differently. We understand that you will be concerned about employment solicitor fees, and that you will want to keep costs as low as possible.
We help people explore their options when it comes to funding. Only in exceptional circumstances do we need to apply an hourly rate. Instead we offer affordable and manageable alternatives to help you keep legal costs to a minimum and use any award or settlement to help you get back on track.
In July 2013, employment tribunal fees were introduced. This means anyone wishing to bring a claim or appeal a judgment must pay a fee to do so.
You may be entitled to a fee remission depending on your circumstances.
The tribunal will take account of your income, savings and other circumstances such as your age, how many dependants you have etc. The fee remission process can be quite complex and depends on a number of factors.
Available for both issue and hearing fee, you may be entitled to a full remission or a part remission. If you are eligible for a full remission then you will not have to pay anything. If you are eligible for a part remission then you will only need to pay a percentage of the fee.
You should always apply for a fee remission if you think you might be eligible. It is often the case that someone has to pay the entire issue fee but is eligible for a discount on their hearing fee.
Related Documents: Court and Tribunal Fees - do I have to pay them? EX160
Tribunals were actually designed to promote self-representation, so in principle they should be user-friendly even for those with no legal experience. The judges and clerks are generally understanding and accommodating to those who need assistance and if the other side has a solicitor, a good representative would normally be willing to help explain processes to the other party if they were self-represented, to help move the process along more efficiently.
Despite all of this, and whilst there is nothing to prevent someone from representing themselves, you may stand a better chance in your case if you seek legal assistance. This is because an experienced assistant can give you an indication of how good your claim is at each step along the way, will know what law supports your case, will understand the technicalities and the process and will be able to deal with questions from the other side, as well as helping you make a decision on offers of settlement.
Whilst the judge will help at tribunal and the other side’s representative might help with process along the way, there is no guarantee that you will get help with the process if you get a difficult representative, and you are really on your own up with little guidance up to the hearing. Unrepresented employees often tell us how they felt cornered into accepting offers of settlement that they weren’t happy with because they felt backed into a corner and didn’t know their claim was worth more and could have got them more money had they gone to tribunal.
Advice from an employment tribunal solicitor can be invaluable in getting the best out of your claim. All too often people accept less in settlement or get less compensation than they are entitled to by just not getting it quite right through lack of knowledge. The advice of a solicitor can help you maximise any compensation or settlement.
Employment tribunal claim form
The tribunal claim form for an employee to issue their claim on is known as an ET1. Although the ET1 employment tribunal claim form appears self-explanatory, there are a number of details that must be dealt with in the correct way, or you may find that you have difficulties with your claim.
For example, you must get the name of your employer exactly right.
It is worth taking advice from a solicitor or having them draft your claim form for you so you know you have started your claim off properly, otherwise you may find that your claim can’t get off the ground before it’s even begun.
Submitting your employment tribunal claim
You should submit your employment tribunal claim on an ET1 claim form.
You can submit your claim online, by post or deliver by hand. Make sure your claim form is delivered in time, whichever method you use.
Many cases do not reach the hearing, and often settle before the matter gets this far. Cases can settle right up to the start of a hearing, and sometimes even in breaks from the hearing!
However, for those cases that do go to a hearing, most people find that the hearing itself is not as scary as it first seems.
The hearing itself will usually be guided by the judge with some input from the parties (being the employer and the employee or their representatives). These days there is rarely a need for witnesses to read out their statements – in almost every case the judges will read the statements and the documents first and then the witnesses will be called in turn for cross-examination. This means the other side or their representative will ask the witness questions about their statement. Following cross-examination, your solicitor (if you have one) will have the chance to ask you some further questions. The judge might ask questions throughout the course of a witness giving evidence.
After this and toward the end of the hearing each party will have the opportunity to put forward submissions, which is the opportunity to highlight the strong points of that party’s case, emphasise the weak points of the opposition’s case, and clear up anything that might have been confusing or might need clarifying to stop it from harming that party’s case.
The judges will then take some time to reach a decision or judgment. You may get an outcome that day or, if the judges cannot reach a decision (usually due to running out of time), they may ‘reserve judgment’. This means they will go away and discuss it at a later date and then write to the parties with the outcome.
It is always advisable to go and sit at the back of another hearing before your own tribunal date, so you can see what the rooms, the judges, the clerks and the process are like. It can often make the whole employment tribunal process seem a lot less intimidating, and gives a good idea of what to expect on the day.
If you require assistance from a solicitor, you should contact one as soon as possible. It can take a while for documents to be reviewed thoroughly and deal with any formalities, which can quickly eat into the three month time limit you will normally have for submitting a claim.
Your solicitor will discuss your claim with you, including prospects of success, and will help you with your funding options. At SSB Law we offer a number of funding options, considered under the heading ‘Employment tribunal solicitor fees’ above.
If, having read all of the above, you feel that you do not want to go ahead to tribunal or cannot afford to because of the fees, one option is to propose a compromise agreement or settlement agreement to your employer.
A compromise or settlement agreement is basically a contract between the employer and employee, in which the employee agrees not to bring a claim in return for some kind of consideration from their employee.
So, for example, the relationship between the employee and employer may have broken down, the employee wants to leave and the employer is happy for them to do so, but the employer wants to protect itself from any employment law claims by the employee. The employer might ask the employee to sign the compromise agreement and offer them a sum of money and / or a reference as an incentive to do so.
This means the now difficult relationship can be terminated, the employer can be sure the employee won’t bring a claim against them and the employee has the guarantee of a reference and / or a sum of money to help tide them over until they find new employment.
For a compromise agreement to be valid, the employee must seek independent legal advice. The employer normally agrees to pay some or all of the employee’s fees for obtaining this legal advice.
If your claim is rejected you need to know why. The tribunal will usually write to you and explain why your claim has been rejected. There can be a number of reasons why your claim may be rejected, for example, if you have used the wrong form or not used a form at all, if certain details can’t be established from your form, if you have not used pre-claim conciliation etc.
You should contact a solicitor immediately with the reasons given by the tribunal, as you may have to submit your claim again and the time limits still apply.