Following on from our topical blog on “The Top 3 Things Our Employment Solicitors Say to Clients”, Partner and Head of Employment Litigation and Disputes, Gemma Bailey, provides her expert opinion on what clients should take on board when going into an employment tribunal.
Litigation is stressful. There are no two ways about it. The very fact that you have gone through such upset with your employer is stressful and deciding to do something about it can be daunting. Preparing the case for the final hearing at the employment tribunal is painstakingly laborious and you’re likely to encounter unfamiliar terms and language which make it seem complicated. But please do not stress.
Here are my top tips for employees considering employment tribunal litigation:
Take Early Advice
Even if you decide that you are going to run the litigation yourself, meeting with a solicitor to discuss the facts of the case, the legal issues which arise, the potential strengths and weaknesses, and what to expect from the various stages of the litigation process from start to finish will help you enormously in navigating what is most probably, new territory for you.
Understand Your Limits
And by this, I mean time limits.
Most employment tribunal claims must be preceded by ACAS Early Conciliation. It is a very simple and straightforward step to get the litigation going and, sometimes, can prompt early settlement discussions which avoids the need to litigate completely.
But the time limits are strict and, if you miss them, you could forfeit your opportunity to have your case heard by the employment tribunal at all. Whatever has happened, whether it’s your dismissal or you’ve been treated poorly during the course of your employment, keep a note of the date it happened and find out when the deadline is to commence proceedings, so you do not miss you chance.
Imagine you’ve done everything right so far: you’ve started proceedings in time, you’ve spoken to an employment solicitor and taken advice; you filed your claim at the employment tribunal and you then receive, for the first time, your employer’s defence to your claim.
99% of the time, they are not going to agree with your version of events. They are not going to admit that they did anything wrong, but do not lose heart. The employment tribunal do not know either you or your employer and they are accustomed to dealing with factual disputes.
Part of the tribunal’s job is to decide which version is correct. The way they do that is to look at the documentary evidence and the witness evidence. They weigh up which version is most likely to be accurate and once they’ve done that, they then apply those facts to the legal tests to determine your claim. So, just because the defence tells a very different story to yours, it doesn’t mean you are going to lose. It shows you where the evidence is going to be needed most.
Do You Need Employment Law Advice?
If you have suffered issues at work and would like to learn more about your rights or the litigation process, please get in touch with our friendly and knowledgeable employee solicitors today. They’ll be able to advise you on the strengths of your case and can guide you through the process.