Claims relating to the employer and employee relationship are usually dealt with by the Employment Tribunal. However, certain breach of contract claims must be dealt with by the civil courts.
There are various stages of the Employment Tribunal litigation process:
1. The Claim and the Response to the Claim
Once the Claimant has submitted their claim and that has been accepted by the Tribunal, a copy of the claim will be sent to the employer. The employer is required to provide a response to the claim to the Tribunal within 28 days of the Notice of Claim.
2. Preliminary Hearing
The Tribunal may list a Preliminary Hearing (PH) to consider any preliminary issues such as whether the claim was submitted within the Tribunal claim submission time limits or the employment status of the Claimant for example.
The Tribunal may list a PH to issue case management orders to facilitate the claim’s progression through to a final hearing.
3. Disclosure of Documents
Each party to the Tribunal claim has a legal duty to disclose documents to the other party that are relevant to the issues to be decided in the claim. The Tribunal will order that each party prepare a List of Documents and agree a joint bundle of documents for use as the trial bundle at the final hearing.
4. Witness Statements
Each witness will be required to prepare a witness statement that contains their witness evidence. The Tribunal will direct a date on which the witness statement must be simultaneously exchanged with the other party.
Once the trial bundle has been agreed and witness statements have been exchanged, the matter is almost prepared for the final hearing to take place.
5. Cast List and Chronology
Occasionally, the Tribunal will direct that the parties agree a neutral chronology of events and a Cast list one week prior to the final hearing. These documents assist the Tribunal to get to grips with the matter quickly during the final hearing.
6. Final Hearing
The length of the final hearing depends on the complexity and number of claims brought by the Claimant.
As a rough guide a straightforward ordinary unfair dismissal claim would be expected to take between 1- 2 days to determine liability and remedy if successful at the final hearing. However, if the claims are more complex – for example involving discrimination, whistleblowing or equal pay claims – the final hearing may be much longer and last between 1-3 weeks.
At the final hearing, the Parties’ statements will be read by the Tribunal and each witness will be cross examined by the other Party or their representative. Once all witness evidence has been considered, each Party has the opportunity to summarise their case and to provide any case law in support of their positions.
The Tribunal judge or judges – it may be a judge sitting alone in an unfair dismissal case, or a judge sitting alongside two wing members in a discrimination or whistleblowing claim – may give their judgement at the end of the hearing, or more usually the Judge/s may reserve their judgement for a later date to be handed down in writing.
Here at Hanne & Co, we have extensive experience acting on behalf of employers when responding and defending claims brought by employees in the Employment Tribunal. We can assist at every stage of the process outlined above, by drafting responses, preparing disclosure documents and List of Documents, preparing trial bundles, drafting witness statements, and instructing counsel and final preparations of the matter for the final hearing.