Tag Archive: tribunal

When an Et1 Arrives Preparing to Defend an Employment Tribunal Claim

Unless you’re a solicitor, the arrival of an ET1 (tribunal claim) does tend to cast a gloom over the morning …

Employment tribunal claims have risen considerably in recent years. In the current climate contractual variations and redundancy dismissals are commonplace; as I write this another high profile example has emerged. I have just read on the BBC website that Hewlett-Packard have decided to replace Leo Apotheker with Meg Whitman. There probably won’t be an employment tribunal claim in this case – but you never know!

While much of the work of my team is to ensure that employers manage properly, so as to optimise employee output and reduce risk, you can never say never. Tribunal claims can arise at any time and it pays to be prepared. These are some of the tips that we cover in our ET1-Tribunal workshop.

Only about 20% of cases go to trial. The great majority are settled or withdrawn. In the 14 years we have been operating we have only had three cases where clients have taken our advice and still gone to tribunal. We have won each case. However, it costs around 8,000 to win … we have had far more cases where employers have not taken our advice or where people have come to us so late in the day that we’re into damage limitation and we have managed those. Most we have settled. The more knowledgeable and aware of tactics you are in the time period after the ET1 arrives the more likely you are to fight your corner well. From ET1-Tribunal gives you practical, tactical tips. The next workshop is 13th October.

You are free to copy and distribute this Article provided you agree with the terms and conditions of specific web site and/or Article-website-Publisher Guidelines whereby the original author’s information and copyright must be included. The author is Kate Russell of Russell HR Consulting Ltd.

Russell HR Consulting provides expert knowledge in the practical application of employment law as well as providing employment law training and HR support services. For more information, visit our website at or call a member of the team on 0845 644 8955.

Russell HR Consulting offers HR services to businesses nationwide, including Buckinghamshire (covering Aylesbury, High Wycombe, Milton Keynes, Bedford, Banbury, Northampton, Towcester and surrounding areas), Nottinghamshire (covering Chesterfield, Mansfield, Nottingham, Sheffield, Worksop and surrounding areas) and Hampshire (covering Aldershot, Basingstoke, Reading, Farnborough, Fareham, Portsmouth, Southampton and surrounding areas).

Using an Employment Tribunal

An employment tribunal is a term used in Britain and Wales which consists of three members who sit in judgment in the tribunal when there is a dispute between employers and employees of companies based in Britain and Wales. There is also an Employment Tribunal in Scotland but it adheres to much different rules then the one that operates in Britain and Wales and the two different entities don’t cross over. The initial employment tribunal in Britain and Wales was established with the creation of the Industrial Training Act 1964. Then in 1998 the name was changed by the Employment Rights Act 1998. The new name is Employment Tribunals which is in existence today.

The tribunal is intended to be a forum that allows the fair hearing of disputes between employers and employees. The complaints may be brought to the tribunal by either the employer or by employees. The tribunals are held in offices in permanent locations throughout the country. These tribunals are statutory jurisdictions which operate by specific dictates and rules and laws. In England and Wales these disputes are often related to unfair dismissal, redundancy pay or employee discrimination which can cover a vast area of discriminatory practices.

In the US this would generally be heard by a state employment dispute board such as the California State Employment Board which is based within the state government. There are also Federal boards where employees can bring their disputes. Of course if the company is a union shop any disputes would flow through that specific trade union. In the US this is often about pay issues. If the complaint is about unsafe work areas the complainant would address one of the OSHA offices which concerns itself with work place safety. In the State of California or the Federal agency the complainant would send a letter addressing their complaint. The employer may not even be informed of the letter and the letter doesn’t have to be on an official form and certainly doesn’t have to comply with specific time frames initially. The respective agency will perform an initial investigation then may appear in person at the company offices or send a letter directing the employer to send in documentation and so forth and then they get notice of a hearing which in the case of California would be heard by an administrative judge.

In Britain and Wales the initial complaint must be on a Valid Claim Form and must comply with very rigid and specific time frames as does the entire documentation process. This can be delivered in person or by email. If the Valid Claim Form is not received in a timely manner the entire case may be dismissed without any sort of prehearing so timeliness is essential to the process. After a review the defendant such as the employer, will receive a Response Form which must be returned within 28 days of being sent the form. The entire process is regulated by the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council and administered by Tribunals Service.

Preparing Witnesses for Employment Tribunal

During an employment law workshop recently, we discussed the role of witnesses. If you have dismissed an employee or dealt with the appeal and there’s a subsequent employment tribunal claim, you’re probably going to have to give evidence. It can be quite daunting, so I thought I’d put together some notes to help witnesses prepare for what to expect and how to deal with being a witness.

A tribunal is a public hearing, so members of the public or journalists may be present during the hearing.

Before giving evidence you will be required to stand while you either take the oath or affirm. An oath can be taken on a holy book which the tribunal will have. The alternative is an affirmation which is a solemn civil promise which is not linked to a religious belief.

Witness evidence will be given, either by the witness reading his statement out loud. Alternatively, the tribunal may take the statements “as read”, in which case it will not be necessary for you to read it out loud.

The employer’s legal representative may ask additional questions to expand on or clarify the evidence you have given. The claimant’s representative will then have the opportunity to question you closely about issues referred to in the witness statement and associated issues. This is referred to as “cross-examination”. The members of the panel may also have some questions. At the end of these questions you will be able to stand down.

If there is a break in the hearing whilst you are giving evidence, for example over lunch or overnight, you will be unable to discuss the matter with anyone because you will continue to be under oath.

The vast majority of tribunal claims (80%) settle or are withdrawn. With tribunal claims increasing and the cost of preparing and defending a claim running at about 8,000 to win, it pays to be prepared. If you can do some of the preparatory work, you can save a substantial amount. Find out what to do and how to do it in our practical workshop From E1T to Tribunal. The next workshop is on 13th October.

Russell HR Consulting provides expert knowledge in the practical application of employment law as well as providing employment law training and HR support services. For more information, visit our website at or call a member of the team on 0845 644 8955.

Russell HR Consulting offers HR services to businesses nationwide, including Buckinghamshire (covering Aylesbury, High Wycombe, Milton Keynes, Bedford, Banbury, Northampton, Towcester and surrounding areas), Nottinghamshire (covering Chesterfield, Mansfield, Nottingham, Sheffield, Worksop and surrounding areas) and Hampshire (covering Aldershot, Basingstoke, Reading, Farnborough, Fareham, Portsmouth, Southampton and surrounding areas). You are free to copy and distribute this Article provided you agree with the terms and conditions of the web site and/or Article-website-Publisher whereby the original author’s information and copyright must be included. The author is Kate Russell of Russell HR Consulting Ltd.