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What do you do if an employment tribunal claim form lands on your desk?

Published on 27 May 2022 | Modified on 14 December 2022

Written by Stacey Bennett
Poole Alcock legal aid

Firstly, don’t panic, here’s a checklist of the first steps you should take:

  1. Diarise the Response Deadline.

This step is critical! A failure to submit a response (the ET3) in time can lead to judgment being made in your absence. You will have 28 days from the date that the claim form (ET1) was sent to you – the expiry date will always be set out in then covering letter that is sent with the claim form.

Should you have a legitimate reason for requiring an extension then you should write to the tribunal to request this before the deadline. There are very limited circumstances where the tribunal will permit a response to be filed out of time and so your best bet is to ensure that the initial deadline is adhered to.


  1. Diarise all other key dates.

In addition to the claim form you will also likely have been sent case management directions or hearing dates including dates for things like; the preliminary hearing, exchanging witness statements, preparing the bundle and the final hearing . Ensure these are documented properly so that you are able to comply with any direction given.


  1. Review the claim form.

You need to review which claims are being brought by the Claimant. This will then enable you to gather all relevant documentation at an early stage. It’s much better to do this as early as possible rather than months down the line when it isn’t as fresh in the mind. Check whether ACAS early conciliation requirements have been complied with. Check whether the Claimant is eligible to bring the claim i.e. do they have the requisite length of service and what was their employment status? Also, check wither the claims been brought in time. The general rule is that an employee has three months from the termination date (or, in discrimination claims, from the date of the discriminatory act or the last event in a series of discriminatory acts about which they are complaining) in which to bring a claim.  There are very limited circumstances in which the tribunal will allow the employee an extension of this period.


  1. Consider early settlement. 

Whether or not there is a high risk that the Claimant would be successful in their claim there is usually a benefit to both partied in settling the matter before it progresses. This saves the time and costs in defending the claim but also avoids the risk of the Claimant succeeding which is likely to increase the costs substantially.

There may be a PR benefit behind settling the matter. Adverse publicity is something all business will be keen to avoid. Consider using ACAS to help negotiate a deal. NB: don’t delay submitting the response from (ET3) Where negotiations are ongoing but incomplete. This should be filed anyway to protect your position (in case negotiations break down).


  1. Instruct a Solicitor.

The best time to act is before any issues arise. If you are expecting an issue to escalate to an employment tribunal then you should obtain expert employment law advice as soon as possible. If you’ve received a claim form, instructing an employment solicitor to advise you will ensure that you follow the correct procedure. We’ve the experience and the expertise to advise you on every step of the process.

Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01270 613939 or contact us here.


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