Our employment lawyers have vast experience of bringing Employment Tribunal claims involving almost all aspects of Employment Law, including Unfair Dismissal, Constructive Dismissal, Discrimination and Harassment, Whistleblowing, TUPE, Redundancy, Working Rights for Parents and Carers, Breach of Contract, Holiday Pay and Unlawful Deductions from Wages, representing clients in the Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal as well as at first instance. By instructing Freemans, you can be sure of specialist expertise and representation in your Employment Tribunal claim, giving you the best prospects of success. Whilst our employment lawyers will take your case all the way if necessary, in most cases we are able to reach a favourable settlement that resolves the issue more quickly and without the stress and pressure of a full trial.
Unlike many employment lawyers, we represent our clients in full Employment Tribunal hearings when appropriate. This advocacy experience means that we can give you accurate advice as to what is likely to happen in the Employment Tribunal hearing 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. Whilst we use our technical expertise in preparing your case, our employment lawyers make sure that you are not left behind by legalese but understand all of the issues and each step of the process.
We know that money is often tight in circumstances leading to an Employment Tribunal claim. We assess whether we might be able to offer a Damages Based Agreement (where you pay us a percentage of the compensation you receive) to bring an Employment Tribunal claim or identify whether you can use existing legal expenses insurance to pay your legal fees.
Our employment lawyers are based in our London office but can also see you at our Watford Office.
In most cases, it is not possible to bring an Employment Tribunal claim without submitting your details to ACAS for Early Conciliation. It is not mandatory to use the conciliation service, but it is a useful process and can enable you to reach an early settlement with your opponent, or at least understand their position. A conciliator will contact your opponent to explain the background to your claim and see if it can be resolved. If it is not, ACAS will issue a Certificate to enable you to then bring a claim to the Employment Tribunal.
There are now no fees payable to issue a claim in the Employment Tribunal, after the Supreme Court quashed the previous system of Tribunal fees. You may incur your own legal costs, or costs of obtaining expert evidence. We assess whether we might be able to offer a no win no fee agreement to bring an Employment Tribunal claim or identify whether you can use existing legal expenses insurance to pay your legal fees. Details of how much a claim for Unfair Dismissal might cost are here.
In most cases, there is a 3 month time limit to bring a claim at the Employment Tribunal. That time limit is paused during ACAS Early Conciliation. The rules regarding time limits can be complex, so it is best to seek advice as early as possible in order to avoid losing the right to claim.
If you have missed your 3 month time limit, it is possible to get an extension of time in limited circumstances. You should seek advice urgently as to whether you are likely to succeed in such an application.
We used to estimate that the average Employment Tribunal claim was heard around 6 months after it was issued. Much depends 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 current experience is that the Employment Tribunal Service is overstretched, with an increase in claims following the decision to quash Employment Tribunal fees, and that this is leading to delays in listing hearings.
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). Claims for Unfair Dismissal and Discrimination are greatly affected by the amount the Claimant has lost in earnings since the dismissal or discrimination: the longer someone is out of work, the higher the award.
The first £30,000 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 you 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 pay due in lieu of notice.
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. It is sadly not unusual for Respondents to make threats to claim costs from Claimants, even when an application for costs would be unlikely to succeed. If you receive a threat of a costs application, we will advise you as to the risks and robustly defend inappropriate applications.
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.
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 employment lawyers’ 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.
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