When I started in employment law many years ago, I loved defending employment tribunal claims.  It was exciting, all the twists and turns, watching the case unfold as planned and getting the decision we wanted. 

It is still exciting for me, but I have come to understand the huge toll it takes on businesses to defend these claims. 

The financial cost is just the tip of the iceberg.

The real cost is the stress, anguish and worry tribunal claims cause to people in your business. 

Employment tribunal claims are all about blaming someone for something:  whether it is treating someone unfairly, discriminating against them or harassing or bullying them.  If you or your managers are accused of this type of behaviour, it takes a toll. 

Defending your actions can be difficult – you can feel that you have let yourself and the company down, even if you didn’t do anything wrong.  You can get trapped by a clever lawyer and say something you did not mean.

Sitting on the witness stand with everyone looking at you, not knowing what the next question will be or what point the other side are trying to make, trying to answer things as best you can – it’s an incredibly difficult and lonely place to find yourself in.

I love the battle and I love winning.  But no witness has ever come off the stand and said: ‘I really enjoyed that’. 

So, my focus now is on helping businesses avoid claims.  Our whole approach is focused on resolving issues, finding solutions.

If a fight is necessary, I am 100% in.  I do everything I can to make sure our witnesses do well and survive the experience.

I also understand that for most employers, and most witnesses, employment tribunals suck. 

They cost much more than money alone.  They can cause you to lose faith in the system, lose the will to tackle genuine workplace issues, and even question whether you should employ people at all.

Yes, you need robust representation – someone to fight your corner.  You also need someone who genuinely understands the toll tribunals can take and who is willing and able to lead you out of the lion’s den.

Right now, tribunal cases are taking one year plus to resolve.  You can use that time to move on, focus on the positives, support and grow your team.  To me, this is a much better use of your money and resources. 

What do you think?