Last week we held our annual Mock Tribunal in conjunction with the CIPD students at Hereford and Ludlow College. This is a popular event that has been running for a number of years now.
What is an Employment Tribunal?
Tribunals are less formal than other courts. Parties can be represented by solicitors, barristers, trade union representatives or non-legally-qualified consultants. Parties can also represent themselves. The tribunal can decide the order in which it hears from parties and witnesses and can take heresay evidence into account. The tribunal may consist of an employment judge and two lay members. However, in many cases, including claims for unfair dismissal, the employment judge can sit alone.
Our Mock Tribunal
Rebecca Hardy, HR Director, and Sarah Fairclough, HR and Employment Law Solicitor, conducted Advocacy sessions with the students at the College for the weeks leading up to the Tribunal. They were advised on the procedure for bringing and defending an employment tribunal claim. The teams considered the evidence contained in the joint Tribunal Bundle of Documents, prepared for cross-examining and re-examining witnesses and providing oral submissions to the Judge Panel.
The tribunal this year was based on the scenario of sex discrimination in the workplace. This involved an employee working as a PA on probation being given gifts by the Managing Director. The claimant insisted she did not want to accept these gifts but felt she should in case she lost her job. Also taken into account were the conversations on WhatsApp becoming personal and not all work related.
Our Panel consisted of Rupert Seldon, Company & Commercial Solicitor and Alastair Pratt HLC CIPD Lecturer. They heard opening submissions, evidence from three witnesses and closing submissions before retiring to reach their Judgement.
The standard of the students’ work is always of a high level and this year was no different. The selected Advocates handled the difficult witnesses professionally whilst under pressure. Questions were tailored depending on the witness evidence, pressing for answers and discrediting evidence. Dealing with the witnesses really gave the students a feel for how a case can be won or lost on the witnesses, how to cope with hostile witnesses and how they, as HR Professionals, would come under the microscope should a dispute end up in Tribunal…a definite eye opener.
Having heard the parties agruments and based on the witness evidence the Judges found in favour of the Respondent as the Judges did not consider that the Claimant provided sufficient evidence of sex discrimination or victimisation.
Once again, the Students did themselves, the College and Kidwells proud. Thank you also to the Judges Panel and the witnesses for being involved.