Top tips for dealing with Employment Tribunal claims - a #UHR23 blog from VWV

25 April 2023      Martin Higgs, Communications Officer

The prospect of a tribunal claim can bring understandable anxiety. Here we set out some of key issues when dealing with these claims.

ACAS Early Conciliation and Lodging a Claim

Almost all claimants must contact ACAS to obtain an early conciliation certificate before lodging their claim. This can give you an opportunity to consider the strength of the claim and possible settlement before proceedings are issued.

Responding to a Claim - the ET3 and Grounds of Resistance

The Tribunal will check the claim form to ensure it meets the minimum requirements, however, on receipt of a claim, you should review it carefully and check:

  • whether there is an ACAS early conciliation certificate number
  • if there are any limitation period issues
  • the basis of the complaints and whether you need to ask for further details
  • who are the parties party to the proceedings, as sometimes there are multiple respondents

You will be sent a response form and will have 28 days to respond to the claim. Diarise this deadline, as a failure to respond can result in a default judgement. If you need to apply for an extension of time to file the response do this early and be prepared to file a skeleton response and apply to amend it later


Choose your witnesses carefully. You will need the relevant decision-makers at each stage of the process. Check your witnesses' availability early on in case you need to apply for a postponement of the hearing.

When preparing witness statements, use a chronological order, numbered paragraphs and refer to the key issues. A good statement can make all the difference at a hearing.

Hearing Preparation - Key Aspects

Witnesses - In advance of the hearing make sure your witnesses have:

  • read their own statements carefully, more than once
  • read the other witness statements, both for the respondent and claimant
  • ideally reviewed the whole hearing bundle, but at least considered any document referred to in their witness statement

Counsel - Particularly in more complex claims, it is a good idea to set up a conference with Counsel one to two before the hearing. The conference allows for the exchanging of questions and the opportunity for Counsel to advise on the merits of the case and realistic expectations for settlement.

Bundle and documents - A hearing bundle of all relevant documents will be prepared. Additional documents that can assist with the smooth running of the hearing include a chronology, skeleton arguments and a timetable for the hearing.

Crunch Time - the Final Hearing

Hearings may involve an Employment Judge sitting alone, or as part of a panel of three comprosing of two lay members. They may take place in person, remotely using the Tribunal's Video Hearing Service, or a hybrid of the two.

Once all the evidence has been heard and submissions on both sides made, judgement will be given at the end of the hearing if there is adequate time. If not, judgement will be deferred.

Remedy and Settlement

Some hearings can deal with liability and remedy all in one, whilst others require a separate hearing. It is important to know whether the hearing with deal with remedy as well as liability and to be prepared for this.

Examples of remedies include financial compensation, reinstatement and recommendations. It is always worth considering the tax implications of the different types of awards.

Settlement can happen at any time, but is most valuable to both sides if it can be achieved at an early stage, before significant management time and costs are incurred. Settlement can cover things that a tribunal can't order, such as providing a reference or making an announcement.

For more advice on dealing with Employment Tribunal Claims, please contact VWV Employment team's Jane Byford on 07909 656 764 or Bob Fahy on 07500 686 163.

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