Labour Research July 2011

Law Matters

Help for tribunal claimants

At their inception, it was intended that employment tribunals would offer a relatively straightforward method of resolving workplace issues. Today, given the complexity of tribunal rules and stressful adversarial nature of the process, the reality is somewhat different.

In a parliamentary written answer, Jonathan Djanogly, a junior minister at the Ministry of Justice, said that 56% of people who successfully brought their claims in the tribunal in 2009-10 were represented, with the remainder — 44% — having no representation.

Of those represented, the advocate appearing for the vast majority was a solicitor (about 58%). The next biggest tranche came from the voluntary sector: Citizens Advice Bureau — 9%; law centres — 6% and the Free Representation Unit — 1%. Private individuals successfully represented claimants in 4% of successful claims.

According to Djanogly’s answer, the number of claimants successfully represented by unions came to the very low figure of 500 individuals, or 3% of those who were successfully represented. The answer was unclear whether this category refers to union officials or union reps or both carrying out the advocacy.

There does, however, seem to be soom room for error as, most likely, these figures are derived from what the representative tells the employment tribunal of their status.

In addition, the figures do not disclose the proportion of solicitors who have been engaged by unions to represent their members.