Wednesday, July 18, 2018
David Renton

David Renton

Garden Court Chambers 

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The distinction between barristers and solicitors is that we are usually only instructed in the very final stages of any legal procedure. A good moment to speak to a solicitor, in a Tribunal claim, is

The following is based on some training I recently did for a trade union. I hope it will be useful for anyone who is just starting to become a caseworker and learning to accompany other workers at hearings of this sort.

Friday, 17 April 2015 19:56

ET claims - Catastrophe in more detail

You may have picked up, either from the various legal update services who have already covered this story or from the reports in the press, that the latest Tribunal figures, released recently, show that ET claims have fallen sharply, following the introduction of fees in July 2013.

Monday, 20 October 2014 11:57

Further employment tribunal claims analysis

The release of the Employment Tribunal figures for April to June 2014 made unwelcome reading for employment lawyers. The total number of claims issued (18,106) was down 76% on the same period a year ago. Just as important was the 24% fall in claims compared to the previous quarter (i.e. January to March 2014).
1) As from 6 May 2014, if a worker wants to bring a claim to the Employment Tribunal they will be required, first of all, to go through ACAS early conciliation. If you haven't had confirmation that the ACAS stage is complete your ET1 claim will not be accepted.

2) The ACAS form is here:

3) ACAS conciliation, unlike the ET1 / Tribunal process itself, is free. While there are many problems with it (see below), there may be some groups of workers who benefit from it eg people who are unsure about bringing a claim, and merely wish to negotiate.

4) Make a note of the time and date when you send your claim to ACAS this could be important later. Keep a copy of any receipt you get. If you haven't had confirmation of receipt within 24 hours, re-send it, until you get confirmation.

5) After you have completed the form, ACAS should contact you, probably by telephone. The ACAS conciliation officer will use the call to ascertain what sort of claim you have, and what its very rough value might be.

6) You would be well advised to prepare for the call from ACAS, for example, by thinking through the one sentence which would best explain what your claim is about, and writing it down in advance. For example, "I have just been told I will be dismissed, and I want to bring a tribunal claim for unfair dismissal." Or, "my employer owes me 200". Or, "my manager has been bullying me and I think the reason for the bullying is my race".

7) If you have a trade union, or a solicitor, you cannot name either on the ACAS form. ACAS will not know that you are represented until you tell them. That means that you would be well advised to have your representative's number written down and at hand. You must tell ACAS the number, or ACAS will speak only to you and not to your representative.

8) From ACAS's perspective, the sole purpose of their involvement will be to obtain an agreement between you and your employer that you will not bring a claim in return for your employer offering you a (modest) sum of money. If agreement is achieved, then from ACAS's perspective, this is a "result". If it is not achieved, then ACAS' involvement will be a failure.

9) Because ACAS officers are under instructions to seek to obtain an agreement between you and your employer, you should be cautious about their involvement. If you don't have a solicitor, and your employer does (and most employers will engage solicitors as soon as ACAS is involved), there is a real likelihood that the ACAS officer will find it easier to pressure you to make an agreement, and harder to put pressure on the employer's solicitor (the solicitor will have been here more times before, will know what to say, and will be less amenable to pressure). Be cautious about making an agreement that will result in your claim being settled at an under-value. Agreements, once made, are not reversible. If in any doubt at all, speak to your union or to a solicitor before agreeing anything.

10) The ordinary time limit for a Tribunal claim is three months from the act about which you are complaining. If ACAS has your claim, and you do not reach agreement with your employer, your time will be extended, potentially, by up to a month. The best ways to make sure that ACAS' involvement does not take your claim out of time are: a) involving ACAS early, at least a month before the three month deadline runs out, and b) making sure that you keep any documents showing when ACAS received your claim (in case there is a dispute later about when ACAS received your details), and c) making sure that you keep the documents showing when exactly ACAS' involvement in your claim ended.

Thursday, 17 July 2014 09:53

How bad have fees been?

This July marks the anniversary of the introduction of fees in the Employment Tribunal. Few people supported them before they were introduced; fewer have a good word for them now. 
Thursday, 17 April 2014 13:33

Catastrophe in more detail

Most of my readers will have picked up, either from the various legal update services who have already covered this story or from the reports in the press, that the latest Tribunal figures, released yesterday, show that ET claims have fallen sharply, following the introduction of fees in July 2013.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013 10:19

On the picket line: a year of Struck Out

Some twelve months ago, I published a book "Struck Out" analysing the Employment Tribunal system that the Coalition government had inherited, and which has since been subject to dramatic change. My argument was, in brief, that the supposed flaws on which the press focussed (and which in turn have justified the changes we all know about) were in fact mythical. Rather than
The Coalition has now published the Employment Tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal Fees Order 2013, the secondary legislation under which fees will take effect.

Fees remain at the punitive levels on which the Government consulted: 390 for the issuing and hearing of a wages claim, or a claim for a redundancy payment, or for certain types of simple, but unusual hearings (eg applications for time off to care for a dependent); 1200 for the issuing and hearing of an unfair dismissal or discrimination claim, 1600 for an appeal.

What is the point of employment law? Should you try to work out an answer to the question through the changes which the Coalition government has been making in 2012 and 2013, the first thing you would conclude is that the law exists to rewrite industrial relations to the benefit of employers at the expense of workers.
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