One of the difficult things about running a tribunal case for the first time is the uncertainty about what needs to be done before the…
Litigants and new lawyers are often troubled by the vast number of different situations that arise in the process of litigation.
It is helpful to remember that, really, there are only a handful of different situations, just an infinite number of slight variations.
One of the most common is asking the tribunal to do or order something. This might be ordering a document be disclosed; a question answered; a hearing postponed or a witness ordered to attend. But all these situations follow a common pattern. What follows is a standard template for applying for almost anything.
It is important to comply so far as you possibly can with all case management orders, even if the other side is making it difficult for you by delaying on steps they are supposed to have taken.
Sometimes another party in a case will make an application about something in which you have no stake or interest.
This is most common in cases with many different parties. Often a disclosure debate between the first claimant and the second respondent will be irrelevant to the third claimant.
In this situation it is sensible, if you are copied into the correspondence, to let everyone know you have no comment to make.
One of the types of order that the tribunal can make is an ‘unless order’. This is an order in the form: “Unless you do that, this will happen”.
For example, the tribunal may order “Unless the Claimant discloses all the document on which he intends to rely by the 1st May, his claim will be struck out”.
Unless orders are usually made when a party has failed to comply with previous orders. They are a way of the tribunal saying “This is your last chance. Sort this out, or else.”
Courtroom dramas are filled with beautiful people who, at the slightest provocation, leap to their feet to shout “I object”.
Of course, real life in the employment tribunals is not like this. But a lot of litigation is similar. One side will want to do something, or do it in a particular way, while the other side tries to stop them.
A lot of these arguments are important. Many are not. But people (and lawyers are some of the worse) often fall into the trap of objecting to everything the other side tries to do.
This is foolish for several reasons.
Employment cases are very important to the parties and a great deal depends on what the tribunal thinks.
The natural human instinct in such situations is to try to figure out what the tribunal is making of the case.
To some extent this is very sensible.
Case management discussions by telephone are increasingly common. Here are a few hints to get the most out of them:
- Be on time. The tribunal will be just as unhappy if you are five minutes late to a telephone call as they would be if you were five minutes late to any other hearing.
A lot of the conversations and correspondence, during litigation is about providing other people with information and receiving information from them.
But you shouldn’t stop once you have provided or received the information. Go on to say what you want to do about it.