In a recent podcast I quizzed employment law expert and consultant editor Darren Newman about what employers need to consider to ensure that they make the right decision about whether or not to fight a tribunal case.
Emotions can run high when an employment tribunal claim form lands on your desk, with your stress levels and indignation rising as you turn each page. Resist the temptation to let your emotions make important decisions though, instead try and put them, together with your indignation, to one side so that you can objectively assess the strengths and weaknesses of your organisation’s case. It’s easy to be uber-confident when the prospect of a tribunal hearing is a speck on the horizon, but if the hearing was scheduled for next week, would you feel confident in defending every aspect of your organisation’s handling of the matter? Because that’s what you will have to do. If there are weak spots in your case, don’t ignore them and hope that no-one will notice them, scrutinize them in the same way that the employee’s lawyer will, examine them in the same way that the tribunal is bound to.
Think about, and ask your lawyer to advise you on, the absolute best, and the absolute worse-case scenario in terms of what you may be required to pay out, if you lose. That way you can make an informed decision about your approach to the case. If the worst case scenario is a fraction of your estimated legal costs in defending the case, then you may well decide to take a pragmatic decision to start settlement negotiations early with a view to disposing of the case before your legal bills alone bring a tear to your eye.
What are your priorities in defending the case? Do you want the case to go away as quickly and as cheaply as possible? Or do you want to send out a strong message to the rest of the workforce that this behaviour (whatever it was) will not be tolerated. Where you stand on these issues will affect your handling of the case.
These are just some of the things that you should be thinking about. Listen to the podcast to find out more.