Overview of the Tribunal Process
This resource is ideally for use by an adviser who has some knowledge of employment law, but we know that individuals will probably read the pages too.
Asking questions to the Respondent
Questionnaires were used by employees to get information from their employers about their claim (either before they brought their claim, or once it had been issued at an employment tribunal). Although this specific process has now been abolished, it is still possible to ask a Respondent questions. Acas has issued guidance on how this can be done. It is often a good idea to send a list of questions (loosely based on the template of the questionnaire) to the Respondent, who generally will at least partially respond. If the Respondent fails to reply to questions or replies evasively, a Tribunal can still take this into account when making a decision in a discrimination claim.
A Tribunal also has the power to order that questions be answered as part of legal proceedings, and in some cases there are other ways of obtaining replies to questions, such as making requests under the General Data Protection Regulation (Subject Access Requests) and the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Almost all Employment Tribunal claims are now required to comply before they are started with new rules on pre claim conciliation by ACAS, called Early Conciliation.
As of 26 July 2017 it is no longer necessary for a claimant wishing to make a tribunal claim to pay a fee. Please read our article on Tribunal fees.
How to use these Precedent Pages
The information and law on the precedent pages is as accurate as possible but it is only a summary of the law in England and Wales and it is not a comprehensive guide to employment law. If you are making a claim yourself you might find more resources helpful or you may want to get further help and advice in making a claim.
Before making a claim please consider:
- Trying to resolve matters amicably with the employer. If this is done early on, the worker avoids all of the disadvantages of bringing a case (see below) and may achieve an outcome that the tribunal could not order, such as an agreed reference.
- The advantages and disadvantages of bringing a claim. Bringing a claim has many disadvantages for a claimant including: paying fees, time, stress, lack of certainty regarding outcome, costs and publicity. Before a worker brings a claim, they need to think the strengths and weaknesses of their case to help decide if it worthwhile them taking a case at all, have a conservative estimate of what they might achieve in compensation if they win and how likely it is that their employer will pay any tribunal award if the worker wins.
- That after receiving advice about the advantages and disadvantages of an employment tribunal claim, the worker may decide that the right thing for them is not to take any action against their employer.
- Mediation – this involves a meeting with the worker, their employer and an independent mediator. The mediator works with the parties to try and help both agree a way forward.
- Time limits – the rule of thumb is that the worker needs to have made their claim within three months less a day of the action complained of. If time limits are not complied with, a claim is likely to be time barred. Time limits must be complied with even if attempts are being made to resolve matters by a grievance and/or through mediation. Complying with time limits protects a worker’s position. If a time limit is missed, the worker will lose their right to bring a claim and as a result they will lose their negotiating advantage.
- Costs are not normally awarded against the claimant in the employment tribunal but they can be. If, in the opinion of the Tribunal, a party has in bringing the proceedings, acted vexatiously, abusively or otherwise unreasonably, or the bringing of the proceedings or conducting of the proceedings was misconceived, then costs may be awarded. In addition a costs order may be made against a party who has not complied with an order or practice direction. Tribunals are increasingly awarding costs, although this only happens in a minority of cases and the tribunal may have regard to the paying party’s ability to pay when deciding how much they should pay.
The information and law on the precedent pages is as accurate as possible but it is only a summary of the law in England and Wales and it is not a comprehensive guide to employment law.