Generally speaking, most cases going before the employment tribunal follow the same format.
First of all the employee must issue a claim form, know as the ET1.
The employer must then respond within 28 days on an ET3.
A hearing date will usually be set and accompanied by some directions from a judge as to how parties must handle proceedings. The directions are now known as case management orders, and set out tasks that must be completed by the parties, along with dates when the tasks must be done by.
A tribunal judge will either set these orders automatically without hearing from the parties, or there may be a case management discussion to consider what issues there are and so that the parties can agree the orders. Although these can be quite straightforward, it may be a good idea to instruct a solicitor who will be able to assist in breaking down what the legal issues are.
The first case management order usually requires the employee to prepare a schedule of loss, which is a breakdown of what they are claiming.
This next order is usually for disclosure of documents, which means the employer and employee let each other know what documents they have that are relevant to the matter.
The tribunal will usually then order the employer to prepare a bundle of documents, which will collate the employer and employee’s documents that will be referred to or relied upon at the hearing. Although it is usually the employer’s responsibility to prepare this, the tribunal will take account of the size and resources of both parties, and if only one party is represented it is likely to fall on the represented party to prepare the bundle.
Witness statements are the next standard case management order. Witness statements are a vital part of evidence in proceedings, and so it is important that these are drafted properly and carefully.
Finally, the tribunal is increasingly asking that, where both parties are represented, a list of issues is drawn up (if a case management discussion did not happen). This looks at all the issues and points of law that will need to be considered at the hearing and, if properly prepared, can save a lot of time on the day of the hearing.
Many employers have some understanding of employment law and may feel that they can at least deal with the earlier stages of proceedings themselves. However, when matters become protracted or more complex, or as the hearing approaches, even the most experienced employer may need assistance.
If you need our assistance with a tribunal hearing or any part of the proceedings, please contact us. Depending on the complexity of the matter and what stage it has reached, we may be able to assist on a fixed-fee basis.