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Employment tribunals - assessing the strength of your claim

You need to think very carefully before you decide to make a claim to an Employment tribunal.

If your claim looks like it has little or no chance of success, the judge will be able to strike it out before it's even heard.

This page tells you more about the importance of working out about how likely you are to win before you start your claim.

Working out whether you'll win your claim

No-one can say in advance whether a claim will definitely succeed. The type of claim you're making and the strength of the evidence you can provide will affect your chances of winning. So it's always worth looking closely at your claim to work out whether it will have a reasonable chance of success.

The first thing to do is to work out all the claims that you might have. For example if you’ve been dismissed by your employer you might be owed:

  • redundancy pay
  • notice pay
  • holiday pay.

You might also be able to claim that you were unfairly dismissed or that your dismissal amounted to discrimination. Different tests and rules apply to each claim so you need to understand what you will have to prove to win each one.

How an employment tribunal decides how strong your claim is

An employment tribunal has to do two things to decide whether to allow your claim.

  • It has to decide what happened. You and your employer might disagree about what happened, so the tribunal’s first job is to work out who they think is telling the truth about the relevant facts.
  • It must apply legal tests to the facts to make a decision.

This means that to work out whether you have a reasonable chance of winning you need to understand the legal tests that the tribunal will apply and the facts that they will expect you to prove. You then need to make sure you have the evidence to prove those facts.

Can you provide strong evidence to support your claim?

For claims when you're owed money it can be easy to prove your claim with strong evidence, such as wage slips or time sheets, which show how much your employer should pay you.

Claims where you're owed money include:

  • wages claims
  • redundancy pay
  • holiday pay you're owed on dismissal
  • notice pay.

For other types of claim, particularly unfair dismissal and discrimination claims, it can be more difficult to work out whether you'll succeed. This is because you and your employer may well give a different version of what has happened.

The tribunal will have to consider all the facts and evidence presented to them when they make their judgment. To help them decide, a tribunal will want to see that the evidence you've provided fully supports your claim.

If you constantly change your story or are unable to provide detailed evidence, this will count against you. It’s really important that you can give a clear, consistent account and provide as much evidence as possible to support what you're saying.

There are certain legal tests the tribunal will apply to your claim to see if it is valid. Legal tests are how the law applies to the facts of your claim. Some legal tests apply to general employment law. This means that you have certain legal rights that will cover you just because you’re an employee. Other legal tests will only apply to the claim you're making.

If your claim doesn't satisfy all the legal tests, it will have little chance of success.

Next steps

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