What happens in an Employment Tribunal? | Blog | Paul Doran Law

Belfast Office
12 Carnmoney Road
County Antrim BT36 6HN

Leeds Office
West One
114 Wellington Street
West Yorkshire

London Office
124 City Road
London EC1V 2NX

Newcastle Office
Gear House
Saltmeadows Road
Tyne and Wear NE8 3AH

Telephone: 0808 1687 288
Email: enquiries@pauldoranlaw.com

What happens in an Employment Tribunal?

Here’s what to expect when you make a claim against your employer and face an employment tribunal.

In advance

Your legal representative will work with you to build your case. They will do most of the talking at the tribunal, but you will probably have to give evidence too – that is, you’ll have the chance to tell your side of the story and respond to questions. Your representative will help you prepare for this.

Alternatively, you may wish to represent yourself. This is quite common, and the tribunals are used to dealing direct with employees. In this case:

If you want, you can bring friends and family along for support. They will have to sit behind you, and must be quiet so they don’t interrupt the hearing.

What to wear

An employment tribunal is a legal hearing, so it’s best to dress accordingly. For example, tracksuit or jeans and trainers would not be appropriate. Neither would black tie or cocktail dress! Smart office-wear is most suitable.

On arrival

The tribunal will probably be held in an office building with individual tribunal rooms.

You should aim to arrive at least 30 minutes before your hearing is due.

First, check in with the tribunal clerk. They will direct you to the claimants’ waiting room (your employer and their representative will use a separate waiting room for respondents).

Before the hearing

It is possible that your employer’s representative will visit the claimants’ waiting room to offer you a ‘last minute settlement’. They might even put pressure on you to withdraw your case.

If you have a representative, they will handle this tricky conversation for you.

If you are representing yourself, try not to be intimidated. Ask the representative to explain anything you don’t understand. Don’t let them bully you.

Think in advance about what settlement you are willing to accept.

If your employer’s representative offers terms that you are happy with, make sure that the tribunal records the details in writing. If your employer fails to pay, this will help you enforce the deal.

Entering the hearing

When the tribunal panel is ready, the clerk will lead you, your representative and any witnesses into the tribunal room.

As the employee, you and your representative sit on the right hand side, facing the panel. Your employer and their representative sit on the left hand side. Witnesses sit at the back, along with friends and family, the general public and any members of the press (this advice applies in England and Wales; it’s not the same in Scotland).

Note that you can’t take food or drink in with you (unless you need them for medical reasons). Don’t chew gum. Remember to turn off your mobile phone.

Usually, there will be three people sitting on the panel:

The panel might be sitting at a slightly raised desk, and will be wearing standard business clothing (not wigs and gowns).

During the hearing

Evidence is given on oath, and there are rules about what happens and who speaks when, but an employment tribunal is slightly less formal than a courtroom.

First, the panel will introduce themselves.

Then the judge will announce which side goes first:

Occasionally, each side will be invited to make an opening statement about their case – however, this doesn’t happen very often.

When it’s your turn

You will be called to the witness table. If you are religious, you will be sworn in. If not, you will be asked to affirm.

You will then be invited to sit down and give your name for the record.

The panel might already have read your witness statement in private. If not, you will be asked to read it out loud.

Any documents you need to refer to will be on the table in front of you.

The judge, your employer or their representative will ask you questions (this is called cross-examination). This can feel difficult, because your employer is trying to prove you wrong.

What’s more, your employer’s representative might try to intimidate you. This is a common tactic, so don’t feel scared or daunted. Keep calm, and take your time. If you’re really unhappy about how you’re being treated, tell the judge.

Your own representative might also ask you questions (this is called re-examination).

If someone says something you don’t understand, it’s OK to ask them to explain.

Just answer all the questions honestly. It’s not a memory test, so it’s OK to admit if you don’t know or can’t remember.

Direct your answers to the judge, and address the members of the panel as Sir or Madam.

In addition to your witness statement, your answers form your ‘evidence in chief’.

If there is a break or lunch while you are giving evidence, note that you are still under oath, so you are not allowed to speak to your representative or any of the other witnesses.

When it’s your employer’s turn

Witnesses for your employer will read out their statements. Listen carefully, and note any extra questions that may arise.

Your representative will then ask them questions (cross-examination).

If you want to communicate with your representative, pass them a written note.

If you don’t have a representative, the judge will ask whether you have any questions for the witnesses.

You should question anything that you don’t agree with, anything that seems unclear, and any differences between what the witnesses say and what the documents say.

Where there are differences, ask one witness to confirm clearly whether what they have said is true, and to comment on the evidence that differs. You don’t have to get the witness to admit they are wrong – you are trying to show evidence that backs up your case.

Even if you feel angry, don’t be rude or aggressive towards your employer or their witnesses, as this might damage your case.

After the evidence has been heard

Usually, the tribunal will ask if you’d like to make any final comments (these are called ‘closing submissions’). This is your chance to sum up the evidence and explain why you think you should win.

Don’t try to make complicated legal points. Just present the relevant facts as clearly as possible.

This is usually done verbally. The tribunal will tell you if they want the closing submissions in writing.

What happens next

The tribunal panel will make their decision. Sometimes, they leave the room and tell you their decision when they come back. If they need more time, they will make their decision later and send it to you in writing.

Employment legislation and rules are incredibly complex. Although you are fully entitled to run your own claim, legal representation reduces the stress and increases your chance of success. If we are representing you, we’ll hold your hand every step of the way.

Need help?

For a FREE assessment of your claim, call 0808 168 7288 or fill in the contact form on the top right of this page.

We have already helped thousands of people to win millions of pounds in compensation.

See what they say

You have a choice of ways to pay, including ‘no win, no fee’.

Browse funding options

We will also discuss the best methods of funding your case and seek to reach a solution that best suits your needs. This can involve a “no-win, no-fee” agreement if appropriate.

Back to all news

Share Article With:

Call us on
0808 1687288
or fill in this
Free Online Enquiry

(no cost or obligation)

We will only use the information you provide to handle your enquiry, and we will never share it with any third parties.

What Our Clients Say

I found all the staff to be knowledgeable and highly professional. Stephanie W

My experience has been a very professional one. The case ran smoothly from the get go. I was always kept in the loop. Dinah T

Up to date information. Easy to contact. Knowledgeable solicitor. No win without him. Audrey S

Very good. Always stayed within the timescales given. Sound advice, would recommend. Ken S

Efficient and helpful. Takes the claimant points into consideration. Angela R

Paul Doran Law has been extremely helpful and supportive in very difficult circumstances. I would highly recommend them as professionals to others and have a lot of faith in their advice. David R

Although a lengthy case I have been constantly updated throughout. Susan R

Paul answered me promptly, was very helpful and advised me what to do. Winifred P

Paul Doran was very helpful during my communication. Friendly and professional. Adrian M

Cormac is a very reassuring person, he made sure I was kept up to date as my case progressed and was always supportive when I got the jitters. He was very diligent and methodical whilst representing me. Iain M

Professional approach and positive attitude. Shirley M

Competent and efficient and very pleasant to deal with. Cloda McN

Cormac explained my options and talked me through each step and advised me of the best possible outcome. Gerard McL

Very helpful. Emma McA

Satisfied with service. Susan H

Very satisfied with the professional way case was handled. Evelyn H

Staff and solicitor very helpful at all times. Solicitor very knowledgeable and took my case and concerns seriously, and in a very professional manner. Deborah H

Friendly, efficient and very professional. Charlotte G

Very friendly and competent service. Peter G

My experience using Paul was very professional at all times. Kept me up to date at all times throughout the process. Blanche G

Very professional, friendly and efficient. Kept me informed throughout the process. Straight forward service which is exactly what I needed. Paula F

Good end result, Paul did a lot of work. Thank you. Lyn E

Felt at ease and was listened to; got excellent advice. Gemma D

Very professional and always willing to help and offer advice when needed on the situation. Lytreena D

Outstanding, friendly service from start to finish. Matthew C

Very professional and always left valued as a client. I feel that the company has worked very hard to get me a good result. Christine C

From day one there was a plan of action. I feel I was listened to and heard, after which the process was then easy. Kanta C

I would highly recommend. Karen B

Confident in representation. June B

Very happy with all aspects of my experience from initial contact to finish. Andrew B

Understanding and very prompt. Michelle W

Completely professional, and secured a settlement beyond my expectations. Cormac was exceptional – very many thanks. Joan W

Very happy with results. Very grateful for all Paul and his team have done for me. I feel valued as a client, my questions were always answered very quickly. Thank you. Anna V

Very good, professional. Amida S

Always responsive, courteous and supportive. Would recommend to friends and family without hesitation. David S

Easy and efficient and professional at all times. Stephanie R

Very good. Yusuf O

Excellent, efficient and prompt legal advice. Very satisfied with service provided. Lisa N

It took me a long time to find a solicitor who would support my case. I’m so glad I found Paul Doran Law who brought me success. Shirley N

I have had a very pleasant experience using Paul Doran Law and would definitely use again. Rebecca McM

The service was always informative, dignified and respectful. Chloe McL

I would definitely recommend. Colleen McB

Cormac was excellent from start to finish. I have already recommended him to friends and family. Sam M

Paul Doran Law were professional and very concerned about my feelings and what I had been through. I felt that they cared. Lisa M

Professional, helpful, very knowledgeable. Highly recommended. Bekki M

I found Cormac very compassionate and was always there as I had a lot of queries. Stephen McG

Impressed with accessibly, speed of response and professionalism. Edna L

Cormac was very professional and reassuring at all times. Kat K

Great, a good experience. Thank you. Mary K

Professional, efficient and friendly. Tabitha K

Very well treated throughout. I was always listened to and my questions answered. Allan H

I found Mr Rice to be professional, amiable and my overall experience was a positive one. Marcel G

I received valued information initially and came back later to receive a very satisfactory outcome. Lyn F

Put at ease very early on which helped me feel less stress. Harry D

I can’t thank you enough. I am so glad with the outcome and will recommend you. Christopher B

Cormac was great. Tom B

I would recommend Paul’s legal service as it is professional and thorough. Shelia H

This claim has been handled professionally and without delays. I am totally satisfied. Kelly L

Should the need arise I would definitely use Paul Doran’s services again. Suzie U

Any queries were answered quickly with detailed responses.  Sharon H

Everything was written very simply and in plain English which was good. Sylvia B

When time lines have been set, they have been met. I did not just feel like a case number. Karen S

When I emailed, Paul replied straight away.Very friendly and easy to talk to. Rita C

Paul was very thorough and helpful and successfully brought my case to an end. Margaret C

I feel strongly that Paul cares about clients. Pamela R

Paul was very reasonable and fair regarding the fees deducted from my claim offer I was awarded. Deborah McM

Very professional all the way through the process. Sharon C

I found all the staff to be knowledgeable and highly professional. Stephanie W

Well informed and easy to contact. I wouldn’t have won my case without him. Audrey S

Very good. Always stayed within the timescales given. Sound advice. Would recommend. Ken S

Efficient. Helpful. Take the clients points into consideration. Angela R

Paul Doran Law has been extremely helpful and supportive in very difficult circumstances. David R

Although a lengthy case, I have been constantly updated throughout. Jenny R

Professional and efficient service with helpful and friendly staff. Susan R

My case was handled professionally and my solicitor was very understanding and quick to respond. Eleanor P

Paul was very helpful and friendly. Adrian M

Cormac is a very reassuring person. He was very supportive when I got the jitters. Iain M

Kept going when it did not good and achieved a successful outcome. Shirley M

Competent, efficient and very pleasant to deal with. Cloda McN

Cormac deserves a salary for counselling alone! Lesley A

Cormac explained my options and talked me through each step and advised me of the best possible outcome. Gerard McL

They were quick to get things sorted. Emma McA

Very satisfied with the outcome to my case. Evelyn H

Solicitor very knowledgeable and took my case and concerns seriously in a very professional manner. Deborah H

Friendly, efficient and very professional. Charlotte G

I liked the personal touch. I received phone calls with updates instead of relying on letters all of the time. Sharon C

Very friendly and competent service. Peter G

Very professional. Kept me up to date at all times throughout the process. Blanche G

Straightforward service which is exactly what I needed. Paula F

Good end result. Paul did a lot of work. Lyn E

Very professional and always willing to help and offer advice when needed. Lytreena D

Very pleasant manner from staff and solicitors. Sara C

Outstanding. Friendly service from start to finish. Matthew C

I feel the company worked very hard to get the result. Christine C

From day one there was a plan of action. I feel I was listened to and heard after which to prove the case got easy. Kanta C

I would highly recommend. Karen B

Very good overall service. Judith B

Very happy with all aspects of my experience from initial contact to finish. Andrew B

Very professional, friendly and efficient. Kept me informed throughout the process. Paula F

Very professional. I always felt valued as a client Christine C

Paul was extremely professional and efficient Lesley A

Outstanding – friendly service from start to finish Matthew C

Paul Doran was very helpful during my communications, friendly & professional. Adrian M

I found right from the beginning Paul was very friendly and easy to ask questions at any time. Rita C

Paul is prompt, friendly and approachable. I liked how he was committed to my case and kept me informed. Judith P

I appreciate the thorough and expedient manner to which the task was completed. Barbara H

I feel Paul really cares about his clients and works to get the best outcome and justice for them.  Elaine S

My claim has been handled professionaly and without delays.  I am totally satisfied. Kelly L

Paul’s legal service is professional and thorough. Sharon H

I entrusted him with something that was very important to me and he did not let me down. Deborah McM

I was in contact with Paul on many occasions and all queries were dealt with personally and politely. Judith C

It has been a pleasure using Paul Doran Law. I would recommend him to friends and family. Sylvia B

Cormac was an absolute pleasure to work with – very polite, helpful, and thoughtful. Jessica D

Paul was polite and considerate and efficient. I would highly recommend this firm Geraldine A

I have been very impressed by the industry knowledge and the level of service provided. Nuala M

Quick, honest and responsive.

J Chambers

The service provided has been delivered beyond expectation.

K L Stokoe

Recommend without reservation.

J Taylor

If Paul had not taken on my case, I would not have received monies owed to me. E Shefford

I would recommend Paul’s legal service as it is professional and thorough. S Hall

View more testimonials

Why Choose Us?

  • We only work for employees
  • 25+ Years' Experience
  • No Win, No Fee available
  • Insurance to protect against Tribunal fees