2.4 The employment tribunal hearing
It is very important that when defending an Employment Tribunal Claim the hearing has been adequately prepared for.
This includes bringing all the necessary paperwork to the hearing and ensuring that all your witnesses are prepared and present!
The hearing runs to a legal format in which there is cross-examination, re-examination and summing up. Witness statements are taken as read. In other words the witness does not need to read through the statement, they are simply read by the Judge before the hearing starts.
Witnesses are then cross examined. This involves the employee and any witnesses that he or she brings being questioned on the evidence that they have given. Questions that are not asked during this process or evidence that is not presented or challenged is unlikely to be considered by an Employment Tribunal as part of its deliberations.
Judges sit alone for unfair dismissal claims but sit together with 2 lay members for discrimination cases.
There is a risk that if the correct questions are not asked or the correct evidence is not given that a Tribunal will determine in an individual’s favour in terms of their case. Therefore it is very important that professional representation is sought for the hearing to allow an employer the best chance of defending the case at a full Tribunal.
Thorough preparation is essential in terms of the questioning process. Typically preparation for questioning, summing up etc should take as long as the hearing itself, for an inexperienced litigant. In other words a one day hearing ought to involve at least one day’s preparation. Witness answers can essentially determine a case in your favour or alternatively lose a case!
It is important that you know where the important documents are in a Tribunal bundle. Any document that the Tribunal is not directed to by the representatives is taken as unread. Don’t make the mistake that the Tribunal panel will read through the documents, unless during the course of your hearing you direct their attention to them!
The importance of a properly prepared bundle that is known to a representative cannot be underestimated. You must be prepared to immediately find documents when requested by the Judge and to refer to particular relevant pages.
To discuss your current employee issues and any Employment Tribunal matters please do not hesitate to contact us at P4B Law firstname.lastname@example.org
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