Appeals to authority

Litigation is about convincing somebody of something.

One way of doing this is to tell the person you are trying to convince what somebody else thinks.

In litigation this works well, provided that ‘somebody else’ is the tribunal. A respondent who is refusing to cough up documents may well be convinced by a tribunal order.

It does not, however, tend to work on the tribunal. Saying, or writing, something like ‘My local CAB says that the case should be postponed’ or ‘I’ve talked to a lawyer and he says my dismissal was unfair’ is unlikely to make much of an impact.

This has two consequences. Firstly, don’t use this sort of technique on the tribunal. It is likely to be a waste of time.

Secondly, when getting advice, it is important to dig a little below the surface. If, instead of saying the case should be postponed, the CAB explains that it should be postponed because of the large mass of documents served, at the last minute, by the respondent, you have something to go to the tribunal with.

Solicitors actually do something very similar, but they say ‘Counsel has advised…’ or ‘We are acting on counsel’s advice…’ This is not a great deal more effective. Tribunals see a lot of barristers and tend to take counsel with a pinch of salt.

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