Employment Tribunal Claims

The risk of an employee bringing a claim to the Employment Tribunal is something that causes considerable worry to many employers – but it is often an unfounded fear. When employers closely follow the rules of best practice and ACAS (The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) guidelines for employment, the risk that an employee will have grounds to bring a tribunal claim against them is very low.

Of course, there are rare cases in which a claim is made despite the employer’s best efforts to do everything correctly. This can cause strain to the employer, as even if they win, they normally cannot recover the costs.

Helix Law’s experienced employment solicitors can guide employers through tribunal processes with minimal costs, offering fixed or even conditional fees. It’s essential that employers seek strong legal counsel as soon as possible when a claim arises: this can help them secure a quick resolution and saves our clients both money and time.

If you have received notification of a claim made against you, contact us today to discuss your situation and begin its resolution.

How Employers Can Defend Against Tribunal Claims

Employers who follow ACAS guidelines and employment best practice have the best defence – though as we explained, this doesn’t mean you won’t ever end up disputing a tribunal claim.

All employers should be prepared for the eventuality that an employee may raise an issue against them, such as discrimination or unfair dismissal. The best thing an employer can do at this point is to speak with experienced employment lawyers immediately.
Helix Law can help you through the entire tribunal process, which entails:

  • Responding to the claim
  • Preparing for tribunal
  • Attending the tribunal

We also take steps to help you potentially settle the dispute in its early stages. Employees and employers are required by law to try to settle the dispute through ACAS before taking the matter to tribunal. Where possible, our solicitors will aim for resolution at this stage.

If the case reaches tribunal and you are unsuccessful, you will likely have to pay compensation as well as your own legal costs, or you can decide to appeal the decision. However, appeals can be expensive and risky, it’s better to get good legal advice early on.

Responding to a Claim

It is mandatory that employees contact ACAS to begin early conciliation proceedings before their claim can be heard by the Employment Tribunal. Therefore, often the first official notification you will receive of a claim will be from the ACAS officer assigned to the case.

We recommend at this stage that you engage with settlement negotiations with ACAS and the claimant. If you do not, the claimant may take their case straight to tribunal.

If you receive notice of a claim without having been through ACAS settlement negotiations, this should be included in your response, as this could affect the case’s outcome.

You are required to respond to any claim within 28 days using form ET3 – you may also respond online. If it is not possible for you to respond within this timeframe, you may request extra time. Be careful before requesting extra time, you will need a good reason. If you fail to respond at all, the claimant can automatically win their case.

Contact Helix Law at the earliest opportunity after receiving a notice – the more time is on your side, the better chance you have of disposing of the matter at the lowest possible costs – a stitch in time saves nine.

Before Tribunal

An employment judge will review the claim and response and decide whether the case should go to tribunal.

If the case progresses to a hearing, you will be given a minimum of 14 days to evidence your defence, including the gathering of documents and witness statements. At this point, you will receive details of the proposed compensation (should you lose) and a Case Management Order, which is a schedule laying out dates for the submission of key documents and witness statements.

You may need to attend a preliminary hearing, where you will review the case and be given a designated date and time for the tribunal hearing. You will also be provided with details of what you will need to bring and prepare. It’s important that you inform your lawyer of all details as soon as possible, so they can work with you to get preparations underway for the tribunal hearing.

It is worth bearing in mind that a settlement may be negotiated with the employee at any point before the case reaches tribunal. If an opportunity for an early settlement arises, Helix Law can help you avoid going through tribunal.

The two main factors for preparation are:

  • Documents: relevant documents such as payslips, contracts and pension scheme details may be presented as evidence in the case. The employee can request documents from you, which you may be obliged to provide if they are relevant to the case, and you may request the same from them.
  • Witnesses: you may call upon witnesses to strengthen your defence if applicable. Witnesses can participate either by appearing at the tribunal or by giving a signed and written statement. If a key witness refuses to participate, you can make a court application to order them to appear or provide a statement. Before compelling a witness you should think careful about what a reluctant witness may say – they may do more harm than good if they do not want to be there.

These preparations must be made as soon as possible to avoid missing evidence or problems with witnesses. Speak with Helix Law to ensure your defence is as strong as it can be.

What Happens at Tribunal

You can choose to present your case yourself, or you can instruct a lawyer to be your representative and conduct the case on your behalf. Helix Law’s highly trained and experienced employment lawyers have seen many employers through tribunal proceedings, and are happy to represent you in a tribunal case.

When the tribunal hearing is underway, both parties will have to outline their positions and will answer questions from the judge. The complainant may put forward questions to you as well. You may question the complainant and any witnesses present.

When your case is presented, it is important that you or your lawyer highlight these areas (if applicable) in order to defend your position:

  • False claims in the complainant’s statement
  • Explain the wider context of the circumstances in which the claim arose – such as events surrounding the incident and all relevant evidence to support this
  • Offer a compromise
  • Put your case to the claimant and their witnesses

Once the cases of both parties have been presented, the judge will deliberate, and a decision may be made on the same day or in the days following – if the latter happens, you’re likely to be notified of the outcome by post.

After Tribunal

If you win the case, it’s unlikely that you will be able to recoup your legal expenses. However, if the complainant is considered to have acted unreasonably, you may be awarded some compensation towards your fees. For this, though, you will need to make an application to the tribunal (a process that our lawyers can assist with). The tribunal is reluctant to find a claimant unreasonable and so their conduct needs to be very bad indeed.

If you are unsuccessful and the employee is awarded compensation, there are a variety of consequences you might face, including:

  • Paying the employee a sum of compensation decided by the judge
  • Paying the employee’s tribunal expenses and witness expenses
  • Paying damages and/or loss of earnings to the employee
  • Having to reimburse any benefits they had to claim as a result of the issue
  • Being ordered to reinstate their job

The total cost demanded from you is usually calculated by considering the total financial loss to the employee caused by you, plus interest which begins to accrue from the day of the judgment. Payments made in full within 14 days of the judgment do not need to pay interest.

If you wish to appeal the decision, make sure you have been advised to do by your legal team – weak appeals can end up costing you more. Consult with Helix Law’s employment solicitors before deciding to make an appeal. If you have a strong case for appeal, you must put a request in writing to the tribunal within 14 days of the decision asking for a revision and the reasons for this request.

If you believe that a legal mistake was made during the proceedings, you may contact the Employment Appeal Tribunal. Again, this is something we strongly advise guidance with, and our team is happy to help.

How Much Are Tribunal Costs?

Ultimately, the costs incurred by defending an employment tribunal claim depend on the type of claim – speak with Helix Law today to determine how much you might pay in costs and tribunal fees.

Whichever type of tribunal you go through or the outcome of your case, we’re committed to advising you through your proceedings while minimizing your costs. We can offer fixed or sometimes conditional fees, dependant on your case and circumstances. The key to saving as much money as possible, though, is to act fast when you are made aware of a claim.

You can contact us to find out more about employment tribunal claims either by filling out our online form, calling us on 0345 314 2044, or emailing [email protected]. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible to ensure a speedy resolution can be reached.

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Key Contacts

Fiona Wheeler
Solicitor
0345 314 2044
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Sam Packwood
Solicitor
0345 314 2044
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Frequently Asked Questions

How do Employment Tribunals operate?
What happens when a former employee sues for unfair dismissal?
How is Acas involved?
Can a Tribunal demand that the company reinstates the dismissed employee?
Is there a time limit for employees to sue after dismissal?
A former employee is making a discrimination case against us that we are certain we can disprove. Can we stop the case from progressing?
Should we try to settle out of court rather than fight a claim?
If we settle out of court, can the employee be prevented from making a Tribunal claim later?