An American juror (quoted in Disorder in the Court by Charles M Sevilla, publ. Norton 1992.) said ‘That this system works at all is just amazing. Because you people are not unlike children who’ve bagged a moose with a slingshot and dragged the big carcass home and drop it off outside the kitchen door, fully expecting the adults inside to take care of it, in much the same regard, sir, the two of you are going to push your evidence up here to the jury box and expect us to do the same with it.’
That was a criticism of the lawyers’ approach to a jury trial in the United States, but employment tribunals must often feel much the same.
Those who practise in employment tribunals quite often say that submissions are not very important: the case will be won or lost by the evidence. That is true up to a certain point, but if attention is not paid to the task of presenting to the tribunal in a comprehensible and digestible way the story it is being invited to believe, it will feel as if it has been left with a whole moose – skin, horns, hooves and all – and landed with the task of trying to turn it into dinner.
This is what submissions are for. Tell the tribunal which parts of the evidence are important and why it should believe your client rather than the respondent at points of difference. Tell it what the relevant law is, and show it how the law applies to the facts. Make its task easy. Present the moose in neat oven-ready joints.