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Employment Tribunal settlement and award figures increase

The latest Survey of Employment Tribunal Applications (SETA) compiled and released by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) goes into considerable depth about Employment Tribunal claimants and employers, the costs of going to Tribunal and the way that the Tribunal claims process operates.

What do the figures show?

Representation

The number of claimants and employers using representatives for the day-to-day handling of their case and at the Tribunal hearing increased noticeably from 2013 to 2018.

For claimants, the percentage whose representatives handled the day-to-day aspects of the case increased from 52% (2013) to 57% (2018). For employers, the percentage increased from 60% (2013) to 70% (2018).

A Tribunal case can be very complex and even the administrative process can overwhelm those who do not have experience of how it works. Mistakes can, inadvertently, be made and a case won or lost on how it is handled.

When it came to those with representation at the hearing, the figures again increased; the percentage for claimants increased to 41% from 33% five years earlier, whilst the percentage of employers with representation rose from 67% to 77%.

It is no wonder that more hearings are being handled by representatives; in what can be an intimidatingly formal atmosphere, it is easy to lose track of what is being said, mishandle a query or element of the matter and undermine the case being made. Representation can ensure that the points that need to be made are made in a professional manner, using experience built up over many years.

Settlement and award amounts

From 2013 to 2018, the median settlement amount rose from £2,500 to £5,000 and over the same period, the size of the amount awarded by tribunals increased from £3,000 to £5,000.

A Tribunal has the potential to be a costly business, and the figures show that this has just increased over time. It is highly likely that the cost of a tribunal, whether through a settlement or an award, will continue to increase; ensuring expert representation and making use of proactive conciliation will be crucial to avoid unnecessary costs.

ACAS

The role of ACAS in getting cases settled varied with the amount of involvement that the body had during the case. Where ACAS had no involvement at any stage, 4 out of 10 ET cases were settled. Where the role of ACAS was limited to conciliation in the ET Application only, half of the ET cases were settled, which rose to 52% when ACAS provided Early Conciliation. However, where ACAS provided both Early Conciliation and conciliation in the ET application, 7 out of 10 ET Applications were settled.

Although ACAS is sometimes thought of as another stage of the process before the Tribunal proper begins and can be avoided if needed, these figures show that it does play an important part in achieving a settlement before the Tribunal stage and avoiding the time, expense and trouble this brings.

Types of cases

Across all case tracks, the settlement figures increased: for fast track cases, the settlement amount more than doubled from £700 in 2013 to £1500 in 2018. For standard track cases, the figure exactly doubled, from £2500 in 2013 to £5000 in 2018. For open track cases, the settlement figure rose from £5000 in 2013 to £8000 by 2018.

The increase in settlement figures further demonstrates the need for specialist advice to ensure that where a case needs to be settled, it is settled at the right level and that realistic offers of settlement need to be made if the usually irrecoverable costs of the final hearing are to be avoided.



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