Content Hub/Tribunal Procedure/How the Tribunal Ensures Fairness

How the Tribunal Ensures Fairness

Friday, February 10, 2023

The Starting Point for an Employment Tribunal

The tribunal has an obligation to ensure a litigant in person in the employment tribunal is not disadvantaged and their case is put fairly and appropriately. What this means is that the tribunal or judge will not run the your case for you: you must produce the evidence and make the arguments, further the tribunal will not get involved in any settlement negotiations between you and the other side, nor will it advise you as to your rights or the best course of conduct open to you, but the employment tribunal will do what it can to ensure you are not unfairly disadvantaged by an unequally playing field that may arise by the opposing party having a lawyer or representative.

There are various tools the tribunal may use to ensure this is achieved

The Employment  Tribunal Rules of Procedure

The Employment Tribunal has its own set of rules of procedure which govern all aspects of 

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the conduct of proceedings, both pre-hearing and during a hearing and how to go about writing to the tribunal and how it goes about taking decisions. It is important to be familiar with these rules so you know how the process works. The Tribunal's Rules can be downloaded here.

President's Practice Directions

The Employment Tribunal Rules are backed up by a series of practice directions, think guidance notes, produced by the President of the Employment Tribunal and which cover. variety of subjects including case management (including details on witness statements) and how to go about seeking adjournments of a hearing. These can be obtained here.

Overriding Objective

The aim of overriding objective (contained inside the employment tribunal rules) is to ensure that parties in a case that involves where there is a litigant in person in the employment tribunal the parties are on an equal footing. The rules seek to provide a fair, efficient and cost-effective resolution of claims. The overriding objective also encourages a litigant in person in the employment tribunal to be treated fairly, as they are more likely to suffer from unequal resources and power imbalances during the hearing. It aims to ensure that you can effectively present your case and make your submissions as clearly as possible, without being disadvantaged by lack of legal knowledge or resources.

One of the major problems the tribunal (and indeed any court process) has is that it is not well known for using plain English: the tribunal definition of a word may not be the same as is normally used in conversation. I have produced a guide to employment tribunals that can be downloaded here, it includes a section on some of the most common terms used by the tribunal and what they mean in plain English

Equal Treatment Bench Book

HMCTS publishes the Equal Treatment Bench Book that gives guidance to the tribunal when dealing with parties including parties or witnesses with disabilities and other particular needs. It can be downloaded here.

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