How to make your claim

Site updated on February 17, 2020

It is fairly straightforward to make a claim. Get hold of an Employment Tribunal Application form , complete it and send it in!

However since May 2014, you will first have to speak with an ACAS officer. Without a certificate from ACAS to show you have been in touch, your claim will not be allowed to proceed. You are not obliged to go through a mediation process first, you can inform the ACAS advisor that you do not wish to try conciliation and  that you wish to proceed to a tribunal complaint. However it is worth engaging with ACAS to see whether the dispute can be resolved without formal tribunal proceedings. You have nothing to lose from this step.

Also, since July 2013 you will have to pay a fee to accompany your claim form unless you are entitled to relief due to low income and savings. A further fee is due if the claim is not settled and needs a tribunal hearing to resolve it.

It really is pretty straightforward, but it is recommended that you take advice on completing the form, as it is a legal document. Claim forms can be obtained from Acas, the local Job Centre, possibly your union rep too. You can fill in an application form “on-line” by going to the Employment tribunal web site

You do not need to have a legal representative, you can go on your own and state your case. The tribunal Chair should ensure that you are given every opportunity to make your points on the day. Most Employers these days are legally represented at tribunals, using solicitors or a barrister.

Unless you have acted in a “frivolous or malicious” manner, for example,by wasting time or pressing ahead with a pointless claim, you will not have to pay any costs, even if you lose the case.

You cannot get legal aid for tribunal work in England or Wales, but you may be able to in Scotland.

Although it is relatively easy, figures do show that you are more likely to be successful if you are represented. You should at least seriously consider taking some legal advice as you complete the form. The wording you use and the way you put your case are very important aspects. There are also time scales to be aware of… it is very important to get your claim in to the Tribunal system within the time scale allowed for the issue you are complaining of.

Most claims have to be made within 3 months of the incident, such as dismissal or discrimination. Some claims allow you 6 months, for example an equal pay claim. This three month time period is “paused” while you are in discussions with ACAS –  for up to 4 weeks.

Tribunals can, and do, accept claims made outside these limits – if there are good reasons given.For further advice on time limits and on making your claim, contact our advice line.

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