Employment Tribunal Defence
Our expert employment solicitors have years of experience at defending claims from employees. We can help you at all stages of the claim: from investigation work, drafting the defence (known as the ET3), managing correspondence, drafting witness statements, compiling documents and representation at the hearing itself.
An employee has brought a claim against me what do I do?
The first thing you need to do is take the claim seriously and act quickly!
You will only have a short amount of time to respond – 28 days normally – and you must not miss this deadline. If you do, you may be excluded from the proceedings, which makes it very easy for the employee to win.
Employment tribunals: the ET1
People wishing to make a claim in the employment tribunal (the claimant) must file a prescribed claim form called the ET1. Time limits in the tribunal are strict; most claims must be raised within three months less one day of the date of the act complained of, which could be a dismissal or some other unlawful act. Claims are very rarely accepted by the tribunal if they are not submitted in time.
The respondent will be given 28 days to file a response form (ET3) to the ET1. The ET3 should confirm whether or not the respondent admits liability, and if not, should set out the grounds of their defence. The deadline for filing the ET3 may be extended at the discretion of the tribunal if the respondent requests it.
The ET3 form is now handled by the online portal which will automatically submit the ET3 to the correct employment tribunal.
If a claim is not defended or the response is not accepted because it is not supplied on an ET3 form, the tribunal will list the claim for a remedies hearing, at which the tribunal will decide what remedy is appropriate and how much compensation, if any, should be paid to the claimant.
Once the tribunal has received both the ET1 and ET3 forms, a judge will review these and will make an initial assessment as to whether the ET1 form discloses a claim which is capable of being dealt with by the employment tribunal (for example they will not deal with a defamation action). They will also check the ET3 to see if it discloses an arguable response.
The sift will be a low threshold to overcome and a judge will only object to claims or responses that do not provide enough detail or are not something that can be dealt with by an employment tribunal.
Contested claims – preparing for the final hearing
Where a case is defended, the tribunal will set a date for the final hearing and will probably set a timetable of “directions” stating how the parties must prepare.
In most cases, the parties will be ordered to do the following by certain dates:
- Disclose all documents held in their possession to their opponent, whether the documents assist or hinder their own case.
- The claimant will be ordered to provide a Schedule of Loss or Statement of Remedy. This is a document which details what they are claiming and providing any documents in support of this. For example, if a Claimant is claiming two weeks loss of earnings it would be appropriate for them to provide payslips to support the amounts.
- Prepare and exchange witness statements for each witness who will give evidence at the hearing.
With more complex cases, the tribunal may also order that a preliminary hearing should take place before the final hearing. There are two types of preliminary hearing that can be ordered by a judge. The hearings will both be termed as preliminary hearings by a tribunal, however, employment law practitioners will use the below terms to describe the hearings in greater detail.
Case management discussions (CMDs)
CMDs are usually held privately before an employment judge with both parties attending on a telephone conference. CMDs are led by the employment judge and are often used to clarify any unclear issues in the case, to discuss the timing of directions orders or to agree the details of the final hearing.
CMDs are routinely ordered in discrimination cases and are often ordered where one or both of the parties are unrepresented.
Pre-hearing review (PHR)
PHRs can be held in public (usually before a tribunal chairman alone rather than a full tribunal) or by way of a telephone conference. A PHR might be called to ask the tribunal to decide whether a claim or response should be struck out, decide questions regarding the tribunal’s jurisdiction to hear a claim or decide any preliminary issues, for example, employment status (see note on ‘employment status’ for information about how this could be an issue). It may be necessary for witness evidence to be given at a PHR.
Any PHR can be changed into a full hearing by a judge if the judge believes that the matter can be decided fairly at an early stage. This is not likely to be a regular occurrence; however, it is something that can be ordered.
The final hearing
The final hearing will normally be conducted by a full tribunal consisting of a legally qualified employment judge (formally known as a chair) and two lay members, one of whom will have experience of industrial relations from an employer’s standpoint and the other from a trade union or employee standpoint. Decisions are made by a majority.
The parties and any witnesses giving evidence in support of their case must give their evidence on oath or affirmation. Where the parties have prepared written witness statements, the judge will usually read these statements in private and will not require the witness to actually read the statement out before the tribunal.
The other side will then have the opportunity to ask questions about the evidence (the cross-examination process). The witness will then have an opportunity to give further evidence to clarify any further points which may have come up during cross-examination (the re-examination stage). If the tribunal has any questions for the witness, it will ask them after re-examination.
Once all witnesses for both parties have given their evidence, each party will have an opportunity to summarise their case before the tribunal retires to reach a decision. If there is time, the tribunal will announce its judgment at the end of the hearing. Alternatively, it may inform the parties that the judgment will be given at a later date in writing (a reserved judgment).
If the claimant wins and there is enough time at the final hearing, the tribunal will deal with the issue of compensation. If there is not enough time, or if judgment is reserved, a further hearing called a remedies hearing will be arranged to deal with compensation. So that the tribunal can determine how much compensation, if any, should be awarded to the claimant, the claimant will be expected to produce evidence of what they think they are entitled to recover.
What can our employment tribunal defence solicitors do for you?
At Ironmonger Curtis, we offer comprehensive and practical employment law advice. Our clients recommend us for our no-nonsense approach, meticulous attention to detail and excellent service. By tailoring solutions to your business needs, we deliver advice that is both commercially-aware and practical.
Ironmonger Curtis is Sheffield’s only dedicated commercial law firm. We are a niche firm who believe it is important to offer our clients cutting-edge advice, a wealth of experience in the field and the ability to deal with any issues which may arise.
Contact us as soon as possible if you need expert employment tribunal defence. We are happy to have a free chat with you to talk the situation through.
Contact us for Expert Employment Tribunal Defence Sheffield
Ironmonger Curtis is a specialist commercial law firm based in Sheffield and serving Rotherham, Chesterfield, Barnsley, Dronfield and further afield. Our solicitors provide proactive and common-sense employment law advice to businesses and pride ourselves on our down-to-earth approach and the strong relationships we with forge with our clients. Ironmonger Curtis’ expert solicitors also provide practical and pragmatic advice and representation in relation to company & commercial law, intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions, commercial litigation and commercial property.
If you require advice and representation to defend an employment tribunal claim, call Ironmonger Curtis on 0845 225 2635 to discuss your situation or fill in our online contact form and we will get back to you without delay.