Employment Tribunal Hearing

Lodging the Claim
A claim may be lodged online or via post by submitting a Claim Form known as an ET1. It should be lodged at the closest Employment Tribunal to the Claimant’s home address. This online form must be completed and received by the Employment Tribunal within the appropriate time-frame (for many claims this is three months minus one day of an employee’s termination date or  the alleged incident).

ACAS then provide an early conciliatory service before the case can proceed through the Tribunal. This involves a conciliator contacting the parties to see if there is any opportunity to settle the claim. Settlement discussions may result following this. However after one month, if the matter is not settled, a certificate is produced by ACAS to confirm attempts have been made and the Respondent is provided 28 days to complete and lodge its defence.

The defence must be completed on form ET3. It provides the first opportunity for the defendant in the Employment Tribunal known as the “Respondent”, to set out its version of events and resist the allegations.

Case Management / Preliminary Hearing / Case Directions
Depending on the case and the issues in dispute, a case management meeting may take place to discuss directions or a preliminary hearing may be appropriate to clarify key issues to be determined. These hearings do not always happen, on many occasions, the Tribunal simply sets out directions which all parties must comply with. This is a timetable clarifying when certain set tasks must be completed. This includes a timescale to exchange all documents that are relevant to the hearing, a deadline in which the Respondent must produce a paginated trial bundle and a deadline to exchange witness statements.

Witness Statement Exchange
The key material that is relevant to the dispute should be explained and referenced within the witness statement. This is the primary source of information that the Tribunal will consider when deciding the facts of a case. The witness statement stands as that witness's primary statement of evidence (their evidence in chief).

Arrival at the Tribunal
When you attend the Tribunal hearing you are assigned a court clerk. He/she will ask that all the relevant documents are given at this time. This will include copies of the exchanged witness statements, bundles etc. These will be immediately passed to the Judge who will start reading.

The hearing itself will not start until the Judge has had time to read all the witness statements and review all appropriate exhibits, this often takes a few hours. Each party will be asked to wait in a separate waiting room.

The Hearing
The parties are given the opportunity to provide their evidence about the facts (by means of the witness statement). This is done under oath. The evidence in chief will have been reviewed by the Judge but at the hearing the other parties representative may think it prudent to ask the Tribunal for permission to ask supplementary questions of the witness in relation to matters which have been brought to the representative’s attention arising from the other party’s witness statements and which are not already dealt with in the witness’s primary statement. They are also provided an opportunity to cross examine the other parties witnesses to highlight discrepancies. The Judge/panel may also have questions that must be answered. 

The hearing then concludes with a closing statement.

Typically, if there is time, a judgment is provided on the last day of the hearing, however this is not always possible and instead a reserved judgment is made – i.e.) the Judge reserves the right to make judgment in writing – this is typically produced within a few weeks. The Employment Tribunal’s reasons for a judgment must:

  1. Identify the issues which the Employment Tribunal has determined
  2. State the findings of fact made in relation to those issues
  3. Concisely identify the relevant law
  4. State how the law has been applied to those findings to determine the issues
  5. If the judgment includes financial remedy – it must identify, by means of a table or otherwise how the amount to be paid has been calculated.

Liability and Quantum
In some cases the Judge at the beginning of the day indicates that the Tribunal will first and foremost deal with the issue of liability; for example, whether the Claimant’s allegations have merit.  It will only be following a judgement in favour of the Claimant that the Judge will consider quantum – how much financial compensation is appropriate. If this is the case following Judgement, the parties are asked to provide evidence to support quantum.

Disclaimer: This article does not contain a full statement of the law and it does not constitute legal advice. Please contact the Employment Law Team on 020 3743 0600 if you have any questions about the information set out above.

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