How Do I Win At The Employment Tribunal? – 10 Top Tips
In her latest Timms Blog, Employment Solicitor Emma Spandrzyk discusses “How Do I Win An Employment Tribunal? – 10 Top Tips”
Defending an Employment Tribunal claim is often time consuming, stressful and costly. Our 10 top tips are intended to set you on your way to that all-important successful outcome…..
1. Engage Expert Advice At An Early Stage
Being involved with an Employment Tribunal claim is a complex process. To avoid costly repercussions down the line, it is important to ensure that you get things right from the start.
Instructing us at an early stage will allow you the opportunity to assess the strength of your position. There may be scope to resolve the issue at the outset potentially avoiding the need for a Hearing altogether.
If a Hearing is unavoidable, allow us to guide you through the process and to manage the stress associated with it so that you can focus on presenting your evidence in the best possible light.
2. Know The Claim
If you are presenting a claim in the Employment Tribunal, use the ET1 Claim form and set out your case clearly.
If you are a business responding to Tribunal proceedings, you will need to set out your response to the Claim, using the ET3 response form. When responding, read through the ET1 carefully and respond to each allegation. If you fail to respond to an allegation, you could be deemed to admit it at a later stage.
When considering a case, bear in mind that the first documents that a Judge will look at are the ET1 and ET3. Tribunal Judges often find it irritating when a claim is not pleaded properly or when a business simply gives a blanket denial of all allegations against them.
3. Clarity Is King
Be clear and concise in your drafting and that will stand you in good stead from the outset.
It is worth bearing in mind that Employment Tribunal Judges know the law but often, they will not know the specifics around your role, business or sector. Explain the detail around job roles and organisational structures to give the Judge some background on the issues at hand.
Explain the process that was adopted and the justification around any decision making. Not only will this show the Judge that you are aware of policy and procedures, it will also make it clear that you have taken steps to adopt a reasonable process. Judges do not like unjustified and ‘rash’ responses.
4. Monitor Deadlines
Employment Tribunal’s often issue a series of instructions to follow to help get a case ready for Hearing. These instructions are referred to as Case Management Orders. Case Management Orders and notifications of Hearings are often listed early on in the process. Diarise all dates and stick to them.
If you fail to meet a deadline (without an agreed extension), it gives the Tribunal a bad impression of your organisation. At worst, a continuous failure to actively participate in the case can lead to a finding of unreasonable conduct, a fine and/or being removed as a party to the claim.
5. Gather Evidence
Most cases are won by the quality of the documentary evidence that is presented as part of the claim.
Take steps to gather all documents that support your version of events. You are also duty bound to gather documents that adversely affect your claim.
Arrange all relevant documents chronologically in a file as these will need to be exchanged with the opposing party as part of the Tribunal process.
Organisation is key as it will help the Judge to be able to find key documents quickly and it will give a good overall impression of your conduct in the proceedings.
6. Select your Witnesses Carefully
Choose witnesses that add value to your Claim. If the witness cannot give evidence relating to the issues in the Claim, do not call them.
The Tribunal’s time is precious, and Hearings need to be managed carefully to ensure that the claim can be dealt with in the allotted time. Turning up with witnesses who bear no relevance to the issues in the Claim is not only likely to be considered a waste of Tribunal time, it is likely to irritate the Judge.
7. Communication And Witness Statements
Don’t forget to tell your witnesses when and where the Hearing will take place!
Also, take time and care to prepare your witness statements. The statement should set our your witness’ own version of events and cross refer to any supporting documents.
Witnesses who give a statement will need to attend the Hearing and will be cross examined on the content of their statement. To prepare for this, the witness should be comfortable with the content of their statement. If the witness contradicts the statement on the day or it is obvious to the Judge that they have had very little involvement with its preparation, it can damage the witness’ credibility and in turn, your claim.
8. Engage Constructively With The Opposing Side
In most cases, neither party wants to end up at a final Hearing. Consider whether there is scope to resolve the issue privately and outside the Tribunal Process. Keep negotiations polite and professional at all times.
9. Attend Hearings
If a Hearing date is set, make sure that you and your witnesses attend on time. If you fail to attend without good reason, the Hearing may proceed in your absence and you could be prevented from being a party to the claim.
10. Last But Not least … Etiquette Counts
Judges should be referred to as “Sir” or “Madam” and you should always stand whenever they enter or exit the room.
You should treat all Tribunal staff and Clerks with respect. The staff work closely with Judges and will not hesitate to mention in conversation if a party has been rude to them.
You should remind your witnesses not to discuss the case in public areas, such as the lift, outside the building and the local coffee shop. This is to ensure that sensitive information relating to the claim is not inadvertently overheard by the opposing party, their supporting family or legal advisor.
If you have any queries regarding the Employment Tribunal process or you wish to instruct us to represent you in ongoing proceedings, please contact Emma Spandrzyk in our employment team. Emma can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01530 564498. Alternatively, visit the employment law section of our website here.