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Martin Searle Solicitors

Employment Tribunal Advocacy

Martin Searle Solicitors Employment Law Team

Expert advocacy services for employers and businesses in the Employment Tribunal.

Unlike many specialist employment lawyers who rely heavily on barristers, the team at Martin Searle Solicitors have a proven track record of successfully representing their clients at Employment Tribunal Hearings.

This means that clients have the choice of being represented by the same expert lawyer throughout their case. They do not have to put their trust into barristers who often do not consider the papers until 1-2 days before the trial. It also means that clients can avoid incurring hefty fees if their case settles at a late stage or if the Hearing is postponed at the last minute, for example.

In most situations we are able to represent employers who have handled their claim themselves but when a Hearing is listed, feel that they need expert representation.

In most cases we can agree to represent our clients at Employment Tribunal Hearings for a fixed cost which is competitive with Barristers’ Chambers.

We are able to assist with:

Preliminary Hearings

These may be held to decide case management or more complex issues. For example, the Tribunal might list a Preliminary Hearing to decide:

  • Whether a Claimant is disabled
  • Employment status
  • Continuity of service
  • Whether a claim is in time, or if not, whether time should be extended
  • Whether a claim should be struck out and/or a Deposit Order made
  • Case management applications, e.g. to amend a Claim or Response

A Preliminary Hearing can provide an opportunity to flush-out weak claims at an early stage. For instance, if your employee lacks the necessary status or continuity, or if the claim appears to be weak or vexatious, you might be able to persuade the Tribunal to dismiss it before legal costs and management time escalate. Depending on the circumstances you might also obtain a costs order against your employee. However, it is important to manage preliminary issues and hearings properly, and have professional representation, particularly since most Employment Judges will make allowances for unrepresented Claimants.

Full Hearings

This is where the Employment Tribunal decides whether the case is successful, and if so, how much compensation should be awarded.

The Tribunal will expect you to cross-examine your opponent’s witnesses and also re-examine your own. Cross-examination of your opponent’s witnesses is essential to ensure that the Tribunal does not overlook any inconsistencies and weaknesses in their evidence. Expert cross-examination is particularly important where there are issues of credibility. You are also required to put your case to the opponent in cross-examination. The success of many cases depends upon good cross-examination.

At the end of the Hearing you will normally have to make oral submissions on the evidence and the law to persuade the Employment Tribunal why the opponent’s position is incorrect. Submissions provide the parties with a final opportunity to bring the Employment Judge around to their way of thinking. They should be persuasive and address the evidence and the law accurately. In a climate where employment law is becoming increasingly complicated, and where credibility of witnesses is often vital, it is important to have an expert and experienced lawyer who can command the respect of the Employment Judge and present the arguments robustly and persuasively.

Remedies Hearings

Where a Tribunal has decided that a case is successful but wasn’t able to assess compensation at the Full Hearing, it would normally list a Remedies Hearing to decide this matter separately.

The principles of compensation are complicated and the Employment Tribunal will expect to hear appropriate evidence and oral submissions. For instance, there is likely to be discussion about what is a reasonable period of losses, the severity of injury to feelings, whether there was an unreasonable failure to comply with the Acas Code of Practice, or whether a Claimant contributed to their own dismissal. All of these factors can determine what amount of compensation should be paid.

Hearings about costs

In certain circumstances parties make an application for a costs order – or a Preparation Time Order – against their opponent. Whilst these applications can be made orally at a hearing and be decided at that time, this is not always possible. In those circumstances the tribunal will list a separate hearing to decide the costs application.

Employment Tribunals have the power to make costs orders up to £20,000, or to refer cases with higher costs to the County Court for a detailed assessment. For employers making costs applications, a successful decision can allow the recovery of legal fees and send out the right message to the workforce. The principles of costs are complicated and the decisions of Employment Judges are not always easy to predict. It is therefore important to have a lawyer who knows what they are doing, and who is able to present arguments effectively and persuasively to reach the right outcome.

Reconsideration Hearings

Where a party feels that the Employment Judge has reached a wrong conclusion, in certain circumstances they can apply for a Reconsideration. If the Employment Judge allows the application to proceed, s/he will usually list another Hearing. This will usually be limited to arguments about the law and so an expert employment lawyer can be instrumental in explaining just why the Employment Judge got it wrong.

Testimonials

“I would like to say a heartfelt thank you for your time, understanding and patience. With the death of my father and the arrival of my little girl I haven’t always been contactable, but Stuart Markless has been lovely. Having dyslexia I’ve often found it daunting trying to understand all the legal documents and paperwork but having someone explain what things mean and talking things through with me has helped and prevented me from giving up and letting them get away with what they did. I highly recommend your services. Thank you again.”  Lucy Vaughan, employee and successful claimant in sex, sexual orientation discrimination and constructive unfair dismissal claims.

“I was extremely impressed at how ably Matthew Grant cross-examined our opponent and made persuasive submissions to the Tribunal at the 2-day Hearing. The Employment Judge clearly respected Matthew’s expertise and approach, and this was reflected in her decision which was to dismiss all of the claims against our Companies”.

Those needing representation at local Employment Tribunal hearings should not hesitate to contact Fiona Martin, Head of our Employment Department. Contact us today on 01273 609911, or email info@ms-solicitors.co.uk to discuss how we can help.

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