Before you can make a claim to the Employment Tribunal, you must go through the ACAS Early Conciliation Process. Early Conciliation is a compulsory initial step when wishing to make a claim at the Employment Tribunal and provides an opportunity for the claimant and respondent to reach a resolution without needing to proceed to the Employment Tribunal.
If this is unsuccessful, ACAS will provide the early conciliation certificate and you would then be required to submit an ET1 form to the Employment Tribunal to progress your claim.
An ET1 is a formal legal document which is required to start an Employment Tribunal claim, and this is completed by a Claimant or their representative if they have one. The ET1 is an extremely important document in the context of any claim to the Employment Tribunal. It outlines everything that you are intending to raise within your dispute.
It is crucial that this captures all of the separate heads of claim you wish make (such as unfair dismissal, discrimination, unlawful deductions from wages etc).
Once submitted and accepted by the Tribunal, the ET1 is issued to all Respondents to the claim. They will then be asked to provide an ET3 Response Form to this, and are given 28 days from the date of the receipt of the ET1 to do so.
In previous months, we have observed a significant amount of people who have brought a claim in an Employment Tribunal without legal assistance. They have then sought our help after they have received the ET3 response form, or often far later in proceedings, such as a few weeks out from the final hearing of the case.
The number of people doing this post pandemic has only soared with even more claimants submitting their own ET1s, and as a result the tribunal’s resources being placed under considerable pressure.
This can, unfortunately, cause significant issues and prevent us from providing the maximum amount of assistance. The ET1 is referred to throughout the claim and if you have not received legal assistance in completing the form, you may fail to include the correct information and in turn, this could prevent parts of your claim from being held at the tribunal, let alone be successful.
A formal application to the Tribunal to amend an incorrectly completed ET1 may be made after legal advice has been sought. However, unfortunately from a legal perspective, this is likely to fail as a claimant had significant opportunity to obtain legal advice previously to submission of the ET1 form, and by allowing the additional claims to be added to the claim, the Respondent could be placed at disadvantage.
Noting the importance of the ET1 form, it is therefore recommendable that any ET1 form is professionally drafted to ensure the best possible foundation for your claim. The general rule is that you have 3 months less 1 day from the act that you are claiming for.
This can vary due to other factors and a legal representative would be able to provide further advice on this and other enquiries regarding any claim you are considering bringing through the Employment Tribunal.
As a word of caution, we have recently seen many claims presented and prepared by claimants themselves, that have ultimately impacted their case. The claimants have good cases ‘on paper’ but have then ultimately not pleaded their cases properly in the ET1 and have missed heads of claim that then effect the potential value of any claim. By the time they have sought assistance from us (some as late as the week before their final hearing) it is too late for us to be able to positively impact the case.
The above is a cautionary tale with the moral to seek legal advice at the outset of your claim, rather than deep into the claim when it is too late. We fully appreciate most of the time the reason the claimant has gone down this route is to save costs, but when they suddenly find they are unfortunately out of their depth (often being faced by an experienced lawyer acting for their former employer), it is going to be ultimately more expensive at this point for a solicitor to get involved.
You also may have limited the value of your claim by not pleading all the available heads of claim. Legal costs can be kept lower by, for example, drafting your own ET1 and then having a lawyer review this prior to its submission for a small fee.
If you are considering submitting your own claim, we would strongly advise you to consider getting legal advice prior to its submission to ensure you can claim the maximum about of compensation possible.
We can offer a fixed fee for the review of an ET1 or ET3, so please get in contact with us 0113 200 9787 if you would like to discuss this and the costs involved in more detail.
Meet the author
Daryl Ross Smith joined Oakwood Solicitors as a Paralegal in October 2018. Daryl finished his degree in Forensic Science at Northumbria University, before completing the GDL and the LPC LLM at the Uni…
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