How does an employment tribunal work?
Everything you need to know about how an employment tribunal operates... but don't worry if it seems complicated, that's what you've got TSP for.
Employment Tribunals, formerly known as “Industrial Tribunals”, were established in 1964 with the object of creating a relatively cheap, informal and speedy means of resolving employment disputes. To encourage simplicity and speed, legal representation was discouraged, (by making it difficult for the winning party to recover legal costs) and claims had to be lodged within tight deadlines. Times have moved on and Employment Tribunals now have to adjudicate on highly complex cases with specialist lawyers making careers out of Employment Tribunal representation. Tribunals do, however, try to stick to their basic principles as far as possible.
Claims are heard in public by a panel of three; a legally qualified employment judge and two lay members, one who is drawn from employers' organisations and the other from employees' organisations (although each member of the tribunal is impartial). In this way, the lay members' practical expertise is added to the legal expertise of the employment judge.
"Overriding objective": Tribunals have an "overriding objective" to deal with cases justly. This includes, so far as practicable, ensuring that cases are dealt with fairly and in good time and in ways which, while proportionate to the complexity or importance of the issues, minimise expense and keep the parties on an equal footing.
Employment Tribunals are fairly informal (for example, no-one wears wigs or gowns) and they have their own procedure, the Employment Tribunal Rules (ET Rules).