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The Tribunal Claims Process: Advice and Representation

Updated: Feb 16

How common is an employment tribunal claim?

Figures from the Survey of Employment Tribunal Applications show that a claim is more common than might first be thought. Almost half of employers (47%) had been involved in tribunal claims in the previous two years; larger organisations were more likely to have been involved and experienced a higher number of claims than smaller organisations. Nearly one in ten claimants said that they had made a previous ET claim.

Information sources

The figures show that claimants were more likely than employers to use at least one source of information, and also to use multiple sources. The popularity of the main sources is:

ACAS website: claimants 73%, employers 41% website: claimants 54%, employers 28%

HMCTS website: claimants 47%, employers 22%.

Advice and representation

The Survey distinguishes between advice and representation. Advice is defined as a party talking to someone about their case, while representation means giving help with the case, e.g. handling paperwork or presenting the case at the hearing.

Parties can seek advice and representation during different stages of the claim process:

  • Seven in ten employers used a day-to-day representative to help them with their case, while 57% of claimants did.

  • Employers were much more likely than claimants to be represented at the tribunal hearing (77% compared with 41%).

  • Around one in four claimants said that they had additional help and guidance (excluding help from a day-to-day representative or at the full tribunal hearing); this is slightly higher than the equivalent proportion of employers (21%).

Not using representation

There were two main reasons given by both claimants and employers who did not use a representative at a tribunal hearing:

  • not being able to afford legal representation (58% of claimants and 15% of employers) and

  • thinking that they could handle the hearing on their own (20% of claimants and 57% of employers).

Legal representatives

Claimants and employers most commonly used lawyers for advice and representation at all stages of the case.

Claimants with larger salaries, or those in more senior positions are more likely to use a legal representative. Those with lower salaries tend to look elsewhere for more affordable representation and advice.

The cost of representation

47% of claimants who had a day-to-day representative, a representative at the hearing or had additional help or guidance (excluding friends, family or work colleagues) said that all of the help or advice they received was free. This was three times higher than the proportion of employers who said the same thing. Employers who paid for this help or support found that the median amount paid was £5,000. For claimants, it was half that.



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