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Criticise specifically

A great deal of tribunal advocacy, especially on behalf of claimants, involves criticising the behaviour of someone else (normally the employer).

For example, in an unfair dismissal claim one might be arguing that the procedure used to dismiss somebody was unfair or that dismissal was not a reasonable response in the circumstances.

Criticism should always be specific rather than general.

Why is the procedure unfair? If it’s because the employee wasn’t told about the allegations before the disciplinary meeting, say that. ‘Mr Smith did not know anything of the case against him before the meeting on the 2nd February. Not only had he not been given the evidence on which Acme Ltd relied, he had not even been told he was being accused of the theft.’ is much more convincing than ‘The Respondent didn’t follow a fair procedure’.

If you can’t identify specifics, then seriously consider whether the criticism can be made to stick. I see this frequently with criticism of investigations. It’s always easy to say ‘The employer should have done more to investigate’. But unless you can identify some specific steps that they should have taken, a tribunal is unlikely to be convinced.

A similar principle applies in relation to giving evidence of things like harassment. Saying ‘My manager bullied me’ isn’t particularly helpful. It’s just applying a label to your manager’s behaviour. You need to be specific: ‘On 24th December my manager came into my office and started shouting at me. He said that I wasn’t working hard enough and that I was a disgrace to the company. He kept shouting for about five minutes, accusing me of being ‘a bloody lazy sod who wants something for nothing, before storming out and slamming the door’. At this point you might say ‘I felt bullied by his behaviour’, but it’s really unnecessary.

One comment

  1. Douglas

    I fail to see why what you say and write will make any difference for it can all be written or said ad infinitum, the outcome.
    The parties are relying upon is the interpretation of the facts by the Judge “their prerogative” or judgment. If the respondents present another version of events as they will! Do not be suprised if the Judge accepts their story no matter how untrue they have the power to do so.

    I’d guess the underlying point is.

    As a claimant do not judge the process for yourself as you do not have that prerogative. Present the facts without your conclusion of what happened plain and simple and let the Judge decide.

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