Trading as Powell Eddison Solicitors 
Trading as Avery Walters Ellis Solicitors 

Tribunal Proceedings 

Time Limits 
In most Unfair Dismissal claims, the Employment Tribunal must receive your claim within 3 months less one day, from the date your employment ended. This is a rule robustly administered by the Tribunal so it is vital you get your claim in on time. 
For discrimination claims or complaints relating to non payment of salary or holiday pay, the 3 month period begins from the date of the act complained of (which may be continuing, in which case the time for commencing proceedings will also continue to run). 
The above time limit for issuing a Tribunal claim can, however, be extended. This can happen, because before you issue a claim, you will need to notify ACAS within the above 3 month period of your intention to issue proceedings, thus invoking its “early conciliation service”. 
After you contact ACAS, the time limit for making a claim to the tribunal is automatically “paused” for up to one calendar month, plus a further 14 days if more time is needed for conciliation. This is to allow a sufficient period for ACAS to try to resolve the dispute, assuming all parties wish to do so.  
If the case is not settled by this time, ACAS will bring the early conciliation to a close and issue a formal certificate to this effect. You can then issue your tribunal claim. It may be that the certificate is issued much earlier than the calendar month ACAS has for conciliation (see below). 
The time limit will start to run again once you receive the certificate from ACAS that early conciliation has finished. You will then have one month or the balance of the original 3 month time period (whichever is longest period) from this time in which to lodge your claim. If you make contact with ACAS just before the end of the original 3 month time limit, you will not be time barred, whilst the early conciliation process is happening. 
NB: If you do not contact ACAS within the 3 months period, the Tribunal will not allow you to issue your claim which will mean that you will also be too late to start early conciliation with ACAS. You can issue you claim after this time, but the Tribunal will only allow this in very exceptional circumstances so it is best not to risk it. 

Employment Tribunal Fees 

You will need to pay an issue fee when your claim is filed in the Employment Tribunal (this is £250 for a standard unfair dismissal claim). There is a further fee to pay for the actual hearing, assuming your case gets that far but many case are settled well before this time. 
There is a fee remission scheme in place which may result in a reduction of the amount you need to pay depending on your personal circumstances. 

How does the ACAS Early Conciliation Service work? 

You (or your Legal Advisor) need to notify ACAS and provide them with initial basic details, including your contact information. ACAS has indicated the quickest way to do this is via its website at acas.org.uk/earlyconciliation. The notification will need to be made within the normal time limit for bringing a claim: three months less one day for routine unfair dismissal cases. 
ACAS will then attempt to telephone you by the end of the following working day to check the information provided, find out what the claim is about and explain the early conciliation process. At some point after this you will receive a call from an ACAS conciliator to obtain consent to approach your employer to try to settle the case. 
If you do not give consent, or it is not possible to make contact with your employer, or if your employer does not wish to engage in the process, the case will be closed and an early conciliation certificate will be issued. You will then be free to lodge your claim, but only within the time period as stated above. 
It is important to note that ACAS are not your “advisors”, and will not protect your interests in the same way as a Solicitor. Whilst ACAS have to be notified before a claim is made, you should still give serious consideration to having a Solicitor on board at the same time, who can liaise with ACAS and properly represent your interests in any settlement discussions with your employer. 
If you have already been through the ACAS Early Conciliation process without success and wish to now issue Tribunal Proceedings or continue to negotiate, please contact us. 

Issuing your Claim 

A claim must be lodged on a specific form called an ET1, which should set out in full the factual allegations and legal complaints. and you will need to pay the issue fee as described above. 
The Tribunal will then review the ET1 and assuming the claim is accepted, it will then send the form to your employer (who is referred to as “the Respondent”). Your employer then has 28 days in which to submit its formal response to the claim, using a form called an “ET3”. The ET3 will state whether the claim is resisted (in whole or in part) together with the grounds. 

What happens next? 

Both you and your employer will be given directions on how the case is to proceed, and deal with the time periods for your to exchange evidence, including witness statements, and also to agree a bundle of relevant papers to be used at the hearing. In some cases, there will be a specific directions hearing rather than it being dealt with in correspondence. 
You and your employer will be given written notice of the hearing, which can only be changed if there is a good reason to do so, e.g. on medical grounds or the unavailability of a relevant witness. You will need to pay a fee of £950 before the hearing can go ahead, unless you are entitled to remission based on a means test. 
At the hearing, you will usually be called to give your evidence first and call your witnesses, which will then be cross examined by your employer. The atmosphere of an Employment Tribunal is more informal than a court. 
The judgment is usually given the same day as the Tribunal finishes in the more simple cases. The judgment is otherwise reserved and it may be many weeks before it is available. 
Andrew Parascandolo 
Employment Solicitor 


Phone: 01423 564551 
Email: ap@powell-eddison.co.uk 
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