Sharing the work

If you do not have a lawyer or other professional adviser to represent you in the tribunal, you may want to take a friend or relative with you to help you present your case. Tribunals have a tendency to insist that one person or another must present the case and not both. So if you are representing yourself, your friend may not be allowed to speak for you. If your friend is representing you, then you may be prevented from putting your own questions to the witnesses on the other side, or speaking to the tribunal at all except when you are giving evidence.

It is not obvious why tribunals take this line. It is true that more often than not in employment tribunal cases there will be only one representative for each party. But those who are legally represented do occasionally – if they think the case is particularly difficult and important – instruct two barristers, known as a ‘leader’ and a ‘junior.’ Both barristers may cross-examine witnesses and make submissions, and it is up to them to decide who does which part of the case. If a represented party is allowed to divide the work of representation in this way, it is hard to see why a claimant who does not have a professional representative should not do something similar.

So if you particularly want to share the task of presenting your case with someone else, explain to the tribunal at the beginning of the case that that is what you want to do. If they are reluctant to let you, point out that what you want to do is not very different from a barrister acting with a junior – and it is the more important to you to share the load because you are not used to this kind of work. Do try to be clear, though, who is in the driving seat at any given moment – the tribunal will get understandably impatient if you and your companion both try to speak at once.

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