When an ET1 Arrives; Preparing to Defend an Employment Tribunal Claim

Published: 05th December 2011
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Unless you’re a solicitor, the arrival of an ET1 (tribunal claim) does tend to cast a gloom over the morning ….

Employment tribunal claims have risen considerably in recent years. In the current climate contractual variations and redundancy dismissals are commonplace; as I write this another high profile example has emerged. I have just read on the BBC website that Hewlett-Packard have decided to replace Leo Apotheker with Meg Whitman. There probably won’t be an employment tribunal claim in this case – but you never know!

While much of the work of my team is to ensure that employers manage properly, so as to optimise employee output and reduce risk, you can never say never. Tribunal claims can arise at any time and it pays to be prepared. These are some of the tips that we cover in our ET1-Tribunal workshop.


  • Check whether the claim has been submitted on time. The general rule is that an employee has three months from the effective date of termination in which to submit a claim. If the complaint is about discrimination, he has three months from the date of the last act of discrimination complained of.

  • Your defence must be filed with the tribunal 28 days from receipt of the ET1. If you miss the deadline, the tribunal will have no sympathy for you and judgement will be made against you.

  • Deal with each allegation separately and cover all the points raised by the employee. 

  • Make sure that you collect and keep evidence at an early stage. This includes taking statements from witnesses as memory fades very quickly with the passage of time.

  • If the ET1 is unclear you can ask for further and better particulars. The Claimant then has to respond to specific questions. If he does not do so, you can request a strike-out.

  • If you think that the claim has no reasonable prospect of success or for example, the claim is out of time you can apply to for a pre-hearing review. If the tribunal grants a PHR and agrees with your submissions, it can strike out all or parts of the employee’s claim.

Only about 20% of cases go to trial. The great majority are settled or withdrawn. In the 14 years we have been operating we have only had three cases where clients have taken our advice and still gone to tribunal. We have won each case. However, it costs around £8,000 to win .... we have had far more cases where employers have not taken our advice or where people have come to us so late in the day that we’re into damage limitation and we have managed those. Most we have settled. The more knowledgeable and aware of tactics you are in the time period after the ET1 arrives the more likely you are to fight your corner well. From ET1-Tribunal gives you practical, tactical tips. The next workshop is 13th October.

You are free to copy and distribute this Article provided you agree with the terms and conditions of specific web site and/or Article-website-Publisher Guidelines whereby the original author's information and copyright must be included. The author is Kate Russell of Russell HR Consulting Ltd.

Russell HR Consulting provides expert knowledge in the practical application of employment law as well as providing employment law training and HR support services. For more information, visit our website at http://www.russellhrconsulting.co.uk or call a member of the team on 0845 644 8955.

Russell HR Consulting offers HR services to businesses nationwide, including Buckinghamshire (covering Aylesbury, High Wycombe, Milton Keynes, Bedford, Banbury, Northampton, Towcester and surrounding areas), Nottinghamshire (covering Chesterfield, Mansfield, Nottingham, Sheffield, Worksop and surrounding areas) and Hampshire (covering Aldershot, Basingstoke, Reading, Farnborough, Fareham, Portsmouth, Southampton and surrounding areas).



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