Employment Tribunals and Litigation
Reasons for bringing Employment Tribunal claims
Employees typically bring Employment Tribunal claims for all sorts of reasons including:
• being dismissed in circumstances which was clearly unfair, or where the dismissal was a disproportionate response to the misconduct in question;
• being forced to resign following a discriminatory act by a fellow employee and/or manager; and
• resigning due to a breakdown in the working relationship. This might be caused by a serious one-off incident; or from a cumulation of seemingly minor incidents which, when taken in their entirety, constitute a repudiatory breach of contract.
Even though an Employment Tribunal claim might seem to be next obvious step, a different approach may be more beneficial. Can the problem be resolved informally with a mediated solution and, if so, who’s the best person to deal with it?
Alternatively, if the working relationship has irretrievably broken down, is it sensible to start discussions leading to a Settlement Agreement with the employer by instigating a “protected conversation” which provides for ‘without prejudice’ negotiations in certain circumstances?
Given the introduction of tribunal fees for claimants in 2013, some employers will now be tempted to play ‘hard ball’, waiting to see if an aggrieved employee is prepared to pay the issue fee (thereby confirming their intention to take matters all the way) before committing to settlement discussions.
Employment Tribunal proceedings
Employment law claims encompass a variety of different statutory provisions each with their own nuances. While an individual will sense when he’s been unfairly dismissed, there may be other less obvious statutory claims that can also be brought. A well drafted tribunal claim will hopefully contain a number of heads of claim, thereby increasing the pressure on employers to consider settlement.
Having issued an Employment Tribunal claim it will proceed to a hearing in a few months time.
While the Employment Tribunal process allows parties to represent themselves, the complexity of employment law makes the prospects of doing so pretty daunting. Like Courts, Employment Tribunals operate with some degree of formality following their own rules and procedures. It’s helpful, therefore, to have a understanding for an Employment Tribunals’ idiosyncrasies as a lack of familiarity can affect one’s overall confidence and presentation. Assistance from an experienced qualified specialist can help overcome these problems.
High Court litigation
Litigation in the High Court tends to arise from wrongful dismissal or bonus claims brough by former emplyees. The flip side is employees having to defend claims – typically restrictive covenant disputes (e.g. springboard injunctions) and confidentiality breaches. These types of disputes tend to be extremely lawyer intensive, fast moving and, as a result, expensive. Specialist help is usually a prerequisite.