Bringing an Employment Tribunal Claim

Disputes with your employer can be particularly disruptive to your life and often upsetting. You can make a claim to an employment tribunal if you think someone has treated you unlawfully.

Unlawful treatment can include:

  • unfair dismissal
  • discrimination
  • unfair deductions from your pay

Here are answers to some of the questions you might have when making a decision whether or not to bring an employment tribunal claim against their employer.

Will the tribunal charge a fee?

No, in July 2017 all tribunal fees were abolished.

How much are legal fees to take a claim to tribunal?

Employees are permitted to represent themselves at tribunal or have a friend or trade union rep. represent them, which means that bringing a tribunal claim need not cost anything other than your time. When the tribunal system was originally set up in 1964, it was intended to provide quick, cheap, non-legalistic redress for employment disputes. Some might say that those days are long gone.

It is now commonplace for employees to engage solicitors and barristers to bring their claim at tribunal on their behalf. Being in dispute with your employer can be a stressful experience at the best of times, so having to present your case in an unfamiliar setting, navigating formal procedures and legal arguments is challenging.

It is difficult to assess what the legal fees will be without knowing what an employee’s claim is. However, you can find broad estimates here.

Legal fees are largely dependent on the complexity of the case and the number of days over which the tribunal will be heard. Once we have taken initial instructions from an employee as to what their claim is about, we would be able to provide a more accurate fee estimate.

Are there any other ways which employees can fund their claim?

You may be able to fund your claim through legal expenses insurance. Often people with home and contents policies have legal expenses insurance included in their cover, so it is always worth checking. If you do, then insurers will fund your legal expenses on condition that they remain satisfied that your claim has good prospects of winning. In most cases, you are able to appoint a solicitor of your choice to represent you. The solicitor will then be paid by the insurer.

As an alternative, you may be able to instruct a solicitor on a ‘no-win-no-fee’ basis depending on whether their claim has adequate prospects of success. Under regulations introduced in April 2013, there is a maximum cap of 35% (including VAT) on the fee that may be deducted from the compensation ultimately recovered under your claim. The cap excludes fees for experts or barristers, which can be charged on top. Speak to us for honest, tailored advice.

Does the loser pay the winner’s costs at tribunal?

No, not generally.  The loser does not pay the winner’s costs apart from in exceptional circumstances. This means that, unless you have legal expenses insurance, you will be more than likely to pay your own legal fees irrespective the outcome of your claim.  This is an important point to take into account in your approach to settlement negotiations.

At what stage will employees start to incur legal fees when pursuing their claim at tribunal?

Prior to submitting a claim, the employee must notify ACAS of their intention to claim through the ACAS Early Conciliation service.

This is a free service which provides a forum to allow you and your employer to negotiate a possible deal.

Many employees appoint a solicitor at this stage to negotiate a deal on their behalf. The ACAS Early Conciliation procedure can be a crucial stage that, if successful, can save time and expense in the long-term. However, ACAS are impartial and the ACAS officer is not there to advise the employee or the employer so, there is nothing to stop you from negotiating a bad deal.

The ACAS Early Conciliation procedure typically lasts for four weeks (although it can be ended sooner or extended by up to a further two weeks). If you have now reached a deal with your employer during this time, ACAS will issue you with a certificate. The certificate number is needed for the completion of your claim form to the tribunal. This form, called an ET1, begins the tribunal process.  If you have not do so by this point already, we strongly recommend that you seek professional advice before completing your claim form.

If you need advice to pursue your claim at the tribunal, or to commence the ACAS Early Conciliation procedure, please contact us.

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