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Employment tribunals - winning your claim - how strong is the evidence

This advice applies to Scotland

Sometimes a dispute you have with your employer is not straightforward. If you make a claim to a tribunal, your employer may try to defend their decision and produce facts and arguments of their own to explain their actions.

If you think that your employer is going to defend the claim, you will need to make sure that you can also provide a good argument to the tribunal judges. If you can't, it's unlikely you'll win your claim.

This page tells you more about how to work out how strong your case is and to make sure you can provide a clear, consistent story before you start your claim.

What evidence will the tribunal judges want to see?

It may be likely that you and your employer are going to give different versions of what happened. It's important that you tell the truth and that you're able to give a believable, consistent account. Try to get as much evidence as you can get to back up what you're saying. Make sure that your first account of what’s happened matches the account that you give to the tribunal.

Use the table below to assess whether your evidence is likely to stand up to being examined closely by the tribunal.

The testWhat the tribunal will look forWhat you should look for in your story
Is your story consistent?Have you given the same version of events at every stage of the tribunal process, or have you contradicted yourself or changed your account of what's happened.

Are there any obvious gaps in your story?

Are there things which don't make sense, or which you find difficult to explain.

Is your story consistent in all the evidence you provide?

Your account of what happened should be the same in:

  • the grievance letter
  • any notes from disciplinary meetings
  • your ET1 form
  • your verbal account to the tribunal.
If you've changed your version of events at any stage, can you give a clear explanation of why you did this?
Is your story consistent with other evidence?Does your story fit in with evidence supplied from other sources, such as medical evidence from a health professional.If your evidence doesn't match what you're saying in your story, can you explain why this is so?
Is your evidence detailed?

The tribunal will want to know if what you're presenting has enough believable detail in it.

If your evidence is hazy, and you can't remember a lot of detail, the tribunal may not believe you.

Can you explain why you can't remember in detail what happened?

If you can't remember what happened, can you ask other people to provide witness statements to say what they recall?

Does your story seem believable?The tribunal will want to know that based on all the facts that have been presented to them, your story seems believable.Think about all the angles someone could look at the story from.

If you're able to give a clear explanation that remains the same throughout the process, backed by evidence that supports what you say, your claim will have a greater chance of success.

Of course, the tribunal will want to know if your story is consistent and seems reasonable. However, depending on the type of claim you're making, they will also apply other legal tests, to help them decide the outcome. It's important that you think about these too before you decide to make a claim.

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