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Tribunal Proceedings

Employment Tribunals were, until 1998, known as Industrial Tribunals.  They were originally set up in 1964 to decide disputes about liability to pay industrial training levies.  However, over the years they have taken on more and more jurisdiction and nowadays most employment-related claims are heard in such tribunals, in preference to the County Courts.

 

A tribunal is not a court, as such, and one of the main differences is that there is usually no award of legal costs between the parties.  This means that it is relatively risk-free for a disgruntled employee to bring proceedings against his or her employer, and employment claims have mushroomed over recent years as a result of this and the increasing raft of employment legislation generated by the UK government and European directives.

 

Although originally conceived as a relatively informal forum for the settlement of employment disputes, Employment Tribunals are in fact now highly formal and operate to all intents and purposes as mainstream courts, although claims are usually heard by three individuals rather than a judge.  A legally qualified chairman is flanked by two wing members (non-lawyers) one of whom is appointed from a panel put together in consultation with the CBI, the other in consultation with the TUC, thereby hopefully establishing a balanced view.

 

Navigating the procedural complexities of the Employment tribunal system is not for the faint-hearted.  As with most kinds of litigation, the tribunal is concerned that parties try to settle their differences without the need for a full hearing.  To that end, early disclosure of written evidence and witness statements is encouraged, just as it is in the court system.  The same difficulties apply - what documents have to be disclosed?  What evidence do you need to produce in order to win your case?  How do you secure the attendance of an unwilling witness?  How do you present your case?  As with any litigation, there are traps a-plenty for the inexperienced and the unwary.

 

Once a claim is filed, the employer has only 28 days to respond to it, and it is therefore important for employers to obtain legal advice at the earliest opportunity.

 

Unlike some firms, our experienced employment solicitors act for both employees and employers.  We believe this gives us a balanced, realistic approach to such claims, which often results in a speedier settlement. 

 

We deal with all types of employment claim including:

 

•  Unfair dismissal

•  Wrongful dismissal

•  Constructive dismissal

•  Discrimination (age, sex, pregnancy, disability and race)

•  Breach of contract

•  Redundancy payments

•  Unlawful deduction of wages

•  TUPE claims

 

We will support you throughout the process, from drafting the claim or defence, through to disclosure of documents, preparing the statements of your witnesses and arranging representation for you at the Employment Tribunal hearing.

 

Whilst we are always ready to fight your corner, we will initially give you our honest assessment of the merits of your case and will always try to assist you to resolve matters in the most cost-effective and discreet way.  Remember that tribunal hearings are conducted in public.

 

 

For more information please contact:
Bells Solicitors Limited.   Registered in England and Wales no. 07827988.   Authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.   SRA number 569030.   VAT registration number 137595285