When presented with a Tribunal claim an employer’s first reaction is normally to fight the case to show that they have acted lawfully and to try and avoid having to pay out a large sum to an employee for an unmeritorious claim.
However there are a lot of factors to consider when deciding on whether to settle or fight. Namely; the cost of legal backing, the strength of your defence, the potential award from the Tribunal, the poor publicity, the message it sends to other employees and the amount of employees who will have to attend the Tribunal and the cost implications of this on the business.
The extent of legal costs depends on representation. If you are being charged a fixed fee then the costs are available from the outset. However if you are being charged an hourly fee you may find that the fees can be extensive depending on the amount of preparation and legal work needed for the case.
The strength of your defence and the potential award from the Tribunal are important to consider as you do not have a strong defence in a dual discrimination case it is advisable to try and settle. Even if you have a strong defence you must remember that nothing is certain in Tribunal.
If the outcome of the case is likely to cause embarrassment for the Company it may be worthwhile trying to settle the case before the media become involved. If the case concerns a procedural fault then the public’s perception of the Company shall not change much, however a sexual harassment/discrimination case is a different scenario!
A victory at Tribunal can let other employees know that if they claim you shall fight the claim and not just pay out. It also reinforces to the workforce that the dismissal was fair and just.
All businesses must assess the likely financial implications of having to send various employees and members of management to the Tribunal if they are called to give evidence.
In practice all of the above factors have to be taken into consideration. A lot of the time, especially in unfair dismissal claims, it is easier to settle at the outset and avoid a stressful and expensive number of months Wait for the Tribunal date. However the decision is invariably down to the employer and he must do what is best for his businesses finances and reputation.
If you have an ongoing employment tribunal case and you would like some advice on how best to proceed, please call us for a free no obligation chat on 0845 074 5970 or visit our feature here.