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Defending an Employment Tribunal Claim

Employment Tribunal claims are on the rise following the decision of the Supreme Court to quash Employment Tribunal fees. When facing an Employment Tribunal claim, it is important to act quickly (there is a 28 day time limit to provide a response) to assess the merits of the claim and the commercial value of defending or settling proceedings.

Our significant experience of dealing with Employment Tribunal claims on behalf of both employees and employers involves almost all aspects of Employment Law, including Unfair DismissalConstructive Dismissal, Discrimination and Harassment, Whistleblowing, TUPE, Redundancy, Breach of Contract, Holiday Pay and Unlawful Deductions from Wages.  Our employment lawyers have represented clients in the Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal as well as at first instance.

Our Employment Tribunal advocacy experience leaves us well placed to give clients early advice as to the prospects of success at the Employment Tribunal and the merits or otherwise of settlement as well as being able to ensure that cases are properly prepared in a way to best present the evidence to the Employment Tribunal Judge. We act for Claimants as well as Respondents so are aware of likely tactics, informing our advice to you on strategy. Our advice is commercial and practical but where litigation is necessary, we will guide you and support you throughout the process, ensuring a robust defence.

It is usually possible to agree a fixed fee to give unbundled advice regarding an Employment Tribunal claim. Where you want us to represent you in proceedings, we will provide the best estimate we can and keep you fully informed about the costs you are likely to incur.

Contact us on 020 7935 3522, lt@freemanssolicitors.net or using the contact form

FAQs about Employment Tribunal claims

How long does an Employment Tribunal claim take?

We usually estimate that the average Employment Tribunal claim is heard around 6 months after it is issued. Much will depend on the complexity and number of witnesses: the Employment Tribunal struggles to accommodate longer hearings, which will be listed further into the future than short hearings. Our experience is that the Employment Tribunal Service is currently overstretched, with an increase in claims following the decision to quash Employment Tribunal fees, and that this is leading to delays in listing hearings.

What can an Employment Tribunal award?

There are caps on compensation at the Employment Tribunal for Unfair Dismissal and Breach of Contract but many Employment Tribunal claims attract unlimited compensation (such as Discrimination and Whistleblowing). That said, the median Unfair Dismissal award in 2016/2017 was £7,521, with median Discrimination awards ranging from £6,314 to £15,198 depending on protected characteristic.

Is Employment Tribunal compensation taxable?

The first £30000 of any compensation for loss of employment is tax free. This doesn’t mean that all Employment Tribunal compensation is tax free: money due to the employee under the Contract of Employment is taxable in the usual way. This applies to any pay owed up to the termination date, any bonus or commission due under the contract, accrued but untaken holiday and, in some cases, pay due in lieu of notice.

Can an Employment Tribunal award costs?

The usual rule in the Employment Tribunal is that each party bears its own legal costs, whether or not the claim is successful. Employment Tribunals can however award costs where the defaulting party acts vexatiously, abusively, disruptively or otherwise unreasonably or a claim (or response) had no reasonable prospect of success. A costs application can be a useful weapon in defending a weak claim, often persuading Claimants to seek advice on merits before continuing with their claims.

Is there Employment Tribunal insurance for available for employers?

There are various insurance products on the market insuring against both compensation and legal costs associated with Employment Tribunal claims. If you take out a retainer with us, we can source insurance for you so that you can be reassured as to your legal spend.

Are Employment Tribunal claims public?

Employment Tribunal claims are generally held in public (except those relating to case management). There is also a public register of judgments, which has recently been placed online. This enables members of the public to search by Claimant (employee) or Respondent (employer). It is possible to make an application that a hearing is held in private or for a restricted reporting order if the details of the case are particularly sensitive.

What is judicial mediation?

Judicial mediation is a process where both parties attend the Employment Tribunal and a Judge seeks to facilitate a settlement. It is usually available only where a longer hearing is listed (of 3 days or more) as it is designed to save Employment Tribunal resources. Both parties need to agree to participate. Our experience of judicial mediation is positive, with parties generally reaching agreement when minds are focused and both have had opportunity to speak with an Employment Tribunal Judge.