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Liz Spooner, head of employment law at Winston Solicitors

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Liz Spooner is our business employment law expert

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Business employment law

Employment Law and its impact upon businesses is a fast changing and complex area of law which employers must navigate in order to avoid problems and resolve disputes.  We recognise the importance of providing clear and practical commercial advice at all times.

We can advise on all aspects of employment law which may affect your business and we act for many employers across a wide range of sectors.  We can advise in all of the following areas and we have particular expertise in dealing with senior executive terminations, restructuring and redundancies, handling disciplinary matters and representation in the employment tribunal.

Call us on 0113 320 5000 to find out more

Facing Claims in the Employment Tribunal

We have particular experience in defending companies in the employment tribunals.  We will handle your case from start to finish and represent you in the tribunal if necessary.  Employment tribunals are a time consuming and potentially costly affair.  In many cases, it may be more cost effective to settle disputes before they escalate and we have a wealth of experience in dealing with such matters.  We will handle each step of the way and advise you accordingly.

Responding to a Claim

Very strict time limits apply in the employment tribunal and once a claim has been issued against the business, it is essential that you act immediately and provide us with instructions so that a response via ET3 may be filed and documents collected and evidence gathered.  Proceedings can be more complex if discrimination is alleged and especially if the claimant (your employee or former employee) is also making allegations against particular individuals who are also cited as parties to the proceedings.

It is a feature of employment tribunal litigation that normally, costs are not awarded and it is in fact exceptional to be awarded costs.  This means that it is important to consider at an early stage whether the case is worth defending or whether a settlement option should be explored.

We can provide full representation up to the hearing itself and would agree with you a costs structure whether this is on an hourly rate basis or fixed fee for each particular tranche of work.

A large part of litigation involves dealing with and disclosing various documents which will then need to be assembled into a bundle ready for trial.  This process can be very time consuming and we can discuss with you how this is best achieved.  We will deal with the other side to agree document bundles and ensure that the case is ready for trial.

In the employment tribunal, witnesses no longer read out their witness statements but it is essential that all of the evidence which you and other managers wish to give is captured in a full witness statements which is then put before the tribunal.  Tribunal judges are insistent that if evidence is not contained within the witness statement, the witness may not be allowed to deal with it.  Witnesses then face cross examination on the content of their witness statement.  It is therefore important to identify witnesses at an early stage and we have considerable experience in taking and drafting witness statements and presenting these in a format which gives you the best possible chance of successfully defending claims.

Speak with us today on 0113 320 5000 to discuss how we can help you

In some cases, we may consider instructing a barrister to present your case but this would be exceptional as we have experience of representing clients at the tribunal and would only instruct a barrister if the case was particularly complex or long or you had a particular preference.  We would discuss this with you at all stages and likely cost involved.  Examples of cases where a barrister might be instructed would include complex discrimination claims involving many parties, a particularly long case lasting more than 3 days or a case involving equal pay or equal value.

Sometimes the tribunal will issue a checklist or case management agenda to ensure that all steps have been carried out and completed and that the parties are ready for trial.  This is important to ensure that costs are not wasted and delays and postponements are avoided.

If the matter does not settle, then the hearing will take place at the employment tribunal and this may be in person or by video platform.  We will ensure that the trial bundles and witness statements are prepared and that witnesses have all been briefed and are ready to proceed and give evidence.

We will also consider any offers to settle prior to the trial and indeed during the trial itself.

The concept of a protected conversation was introduced in 2013 enabling an employer to enter into discussions (“out of the blue”) with an employee with a view to terminating their employment under a settlement agreement, without the parties being able to rely on the details of the conversation as evidence in an unfair dismissal claim. The purpose of the legislation is to enable employers to facilitate the exit of underperforming staff without the necessity of going through a lengthy formal performance management process which can be stressful for both parties.