0370 270 6000

Three weeks at the employment tribunal

2 January 2015

Before I decided to become a solicitor, I imagined working in law would involve spending time in court so I was delighted to have the opportunity to be involved in a three week Employment Tribunal case.


My first task was to prepare packs for each of the twelve witnesses. These contained the witness statements and the relevant page references from the four lever arch files that made up the ‘bundle’. (A bundle of key documents is created prior to, and referred to throughout, a Tribunal hearing.) This gave me a chance to get a good overview of the case. I then attended a meeting with our barrister (known as Counsel) and the witnesses. This allowed us all to chat through the case, and I had the opportunity to meet the witnesses and to hear Counsel explain to them what they should expect. One of the witnesses was based in Australia so I assisted in the setting up of a video conference link for the hearing of his evidence.


The case was held in Leicester Employment Tribunal and we were representing the Respondent. The Claimant was representing himself. There was an Employment Tribunal judge and two lay members sitting on the panel. The room was quite informal and Counsel did not wear a wig.


My role was to support the witnesses, help put them at ease and answer any questions they had. I also had to support Counsel by making sure he had the documents he needed, as well as taking notes during the hearing. This was especially important during the cross-examination of the Claimant, which went on for three days. I acted as the point of contact between the Tribunal and the office, and reported back to the partner on what was happening each day.


It was interesting for me to contrast the quality of the questioning by Counsel with that of the Claimant. It is certainly a lot more difficult than it looks. It also became clear that our Counsel’s familiarity with the bundle was a massive advantage for us.


Quickly we reached submissions stage. There were both oral and written submissions and our Counsel was very comprehensive, weaving together case law, legislation and facts established during the hearing. We returned for an oral judgment a few days later and were delighted to hear that we had won.


In true Browne Jacobson Employment team style, the partner, Counsel and myself retired to a nearby coffee shop for a coffee and a cake to celebrate. It was great to see the case through to the end, and this is a definitely an experience I’d like to repeat.