Do Employment Tribunals favour employers? - Paul Doran Law

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Do Employment Tribunals favour employers?

Do Employment Tribunals favour employersDo Employment Tribunals favour employers?

The short answer is “NO” – but it can be difficult and/or costly to win. That’s why you need the help of expert employment lawyers like us.

Here’s a longer answer…

The tribunal panel is independent. The process is designed to be fair and unbiased, so they can reach a fair outcome based on the evidence presented.

In fact, figures from the Ministry of Justice figures from the first quarter of 2019 show that only 10% of employment tribunal claims were won by employers. If you’re an employee who’s been mistreated, and you have a good case, you have a strong case of winning.

In this article, you’ll learn what to expect in an employment tribunal.

Before an employment tribunal

First, you’ll need to build your case. There are two approaches. You can either do it yourself or you can appoint a legal representative to help you. Obviously, we recommend the latter!

Don’t worry – tribunals are quite used to dealing with people who’ve chosen to represent themselves. However, employment law can be incredibly complex.

Note that, even if you’ve appointed an employment lawyer, you’ll have to do some of the talking. That means you’ll have to tell your side of the story and respond to questions. There’s more on that below.

Either way, you should decide what settlement you’ll be willing to accept (we can advise on this if you want).

On the day

We suggest you dress in smart office wear – not too casual, not too formal.

You can bring friends and family along to support you.

Arrive at least 30 minutes early, and check in with the tribunal clerk. They’ll direct you to the correct waiting room for claimants (your employer and their representative will use a separate waiting room, for respondents).

Your employer might send their representative into the claimants’ waiting room to offer you a last-minute settlement.

If you’re happy with the terms you’re offered, ensure you the tribunal records the details in writing.

If not, you and your employer will go on to the tribunal itself…

Entering the employment tribunal

The tribunal clerk will lead you, your representative, and any witnesses into the tribunal room. You’ll notice it’s  less formal than a ‘normal’ courtroom that you might have seen on TV or film.

You’ll see a panel of three people:

The panel might be sitting on a slightly raised platform, and will be in normal office wear (not wigs and gowns).

You and your representative should sit at the front on the right, facing the panel. Your employer and their representative sit at the front on the left.

You can’t take food or drink with you (except for medical reasons). Remember to turn off your mobile phone. Don’t chew gum.

Put any documents you need on the table in front of you.

Family and friends should sit at the back and must stay quiet during the hearing. Witnesses, the general public, and the press also sit at the back (note that this is different in Scotland).

Starting the employment tribunal

First, the panel will introduce themselves, then the judge will announce who goes first.

Each side might be invited to make an opening statement – but this doesn’t happen every time.

When it’s your turn

Evidence is given on oath, so you will be sworn in (if you’re religious), or affirm (if you’re not).

You’ll then be asked to sit down and give your name for the record.

If the panel has not yet read your witness statement, you’ll be asked to read it out loud.

Your employer or their representative will ask you questions, trying to prove you wrong. Your own representative (if you have one) might ask you questions to, in order to clarify things.

Keep calm, and answer as honestly you can, directing your answers to the judge.

If you feel intimidated by the questioning, tell the judge.

Address the Employment Judge as “Judge” and the members of the panel as Sir or Madam.

Note that you’re not allowed to talk to your representative or other witnesses during any breaks whilst you are under oath.

When it’s your employer’s turn

Witnesses for your employer will read out their statements. Listen carefully, and write down any additional questions you think of.

Watch out for anything you disagree with, anything that’s unclear, and anything that differs between what the witnesses say and what the documents say.

If you’re representing yourself, you ask them questions, for example, to confirm whether what they’ve said is true, or to explain why what they say differs from the documents.

It’s important not to be rude or aggressive. You’re merely trying to show evidence that backs up your case.

If you have a representative, they will ask the questions – if there’s anything you want to add, pass them a note.

Ending the employment tribunal

After all the evidence has been given, both sides will usually be asked to make closing submissions (verbally, not in writing) – that is your chance to sum up the evidence and explain why you should win.

Keep it simple and stick to the facts.

If you have a representative, they will do this for you.

The panel will then do one of three things:

You might be interested to discover that most claims don’t reach the tribunal at all. In around 2/3 of cases, claimants walk away with a negotiated settlement.

We are employment lawyers who only ever act for employees, never for employers. With offices in Belfast, Leeds, London and Newcastle, we act for employees anywhere in the UK.

Related reading

If you found this information useful, you might also like to read our related articles:

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