What is a Preliminary Hearing in the Employment Tribunal?
There are several different stages you will go through when making a claim in the Employment Tribunal. You may have been given notice of a Preliminary Hearing, but what is it? What does it mean? What will be discussed and what do you have to do? At Lincs Law Employment Solicitors, we want to help and, therefore, in this post we have set out information and assistance about Preliminary Hearings. We hope the information below is helpful. However, if you would like to discuss your Employment Tribunal claim with a qualified, specialist, employment solicitor, please call on 01522 440512 for a free consultation.
What is a Preliminary Hearing?
A Preliminary Hearing is a meeting that takes place between an Employment Tribunal Judge, the Claimant and the Respondent (or if the parties are represented, their representative).
More often than not, a Preliminary Hearing is conducted by telephone. To join the hearing, you need to follow the instructions on the document which notified you of the hearing date and time. Usually, you have to call a telephone number at the start time and enter an access code which will be on your Notice of Hearing.
There are two standard types of Preliminary Hearing, a Case Management discussion and a Pre-Hearing review. Your Notice of Hearing should outline which of these is relevant to your case.
Why might the Employment Tribunal have requested a Preliminary Hearing?
If a Preliminary Hearing has been ordered, do not panic, it is not a bad thing and it does not mean you have done something wrong.
A Case Management Preliminary Hearing is routinely ordered in cases of higher complexity, or where there are claims of whistleblowing, automatic unfair dismissal or discrimination.
The Employment Tribunal may have requested a Preliminary Hearing to discuss how the claim is going to progress through the Final Hearing. At the hearing, a timetable will be set and agreed for when the parties have to undertake certain tasks, which are sometimes referred to as ‘Case Management Orders’.
When a claim has been submitted to the Employment Tribunal, it is briefly reviewed by a Judge. On this initial review, the Employment Tribunal Judge may consider that there is something within the claim that needs clarifying, or they do not have jurisdiction to hear the claim presented.
This type of Preliminary Hearing is usually more formal and could be a full hearing on the particular matter at issue.
Once the issue has been determined, the Employment Tribunal could do one of the following:
- Issue a timetable for tasks (Case Management Orders)
- Strike out all or part of the claim if there is no reasonable prospect of success
- Request the Claimant make a deposit of an amount of money to continue with their claim if there is little reasonable prospect of success
- Give a costs warning if the Tribunal considers you are unreasonably pursuing a claim that has little prospect of success.
What do I need to do before the Preliminary Hearing?
The Notice of Preliminary Hearing will outline what steps you need to take to prepare. Usually, you will be required to complete an agenda which will be attached to the Notice of Hearing. The agenda is broken down into the following headings:
- The claim and response
- The Issues
- Preliminary Hearings
- Documents and expert evidence
- The hearing(s)
- Other preparation
- Judicial Assessment/Judicial Mediation
You should complete the agenda to the best of your ability and attempt to agree the contents with the other side. In any event, you must ensure you comply with the Notice of Hearing as it will provide a timescale for you to return the agenda to the Employment Tribunal and send a copy to the other side. Usually, you have to do so no later than 7 days before the hearing.
If the Preliminary Hearing has been requested as a Pre-Hearing Review to clarify an issue, the Employment Tribunal may require witness statements and evidence to be submitted ahead of the hearing.
The key rule is to always comply with Orders from the Employment Tribunal. If in any doubt, seek legal advice.
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors Can Help
If you have a Preliminary Hearing listed and are in need of some assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01522 440512 for a free initial telephone consultation. Alternatively, if you would like more information about the Employment Tribunal process and how we can help, please visit our website at https://lincslaw.co.uk/services/employees/employment-tribunal-claims/
Managing Director, Specialist Employment Solicitor
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