Labour Research March 2016


Employment law

An adviser’s handbook

Tamara Lewis, Legal Action Group, 1154 pages, £45

In a case last year, British Waterways Board t/a Scottish Canals v Smith [2015], another worker lost his claim for unfair dismissal due to a foolish Facebook post writes Nerys Owen. Leaving aside the rights and wrongs of the ruling, the case was notable as another example of the entrenched “inequality of arms” in the tribunal. British Waterways outgunned Mr Smith by engaging a QC, while Smith represented himself, helped by his wife. 

Unable to address the Employment Appeal Tribunal on any of the legal issues, the best he could do was to simply ask the judges to agree with the original tribunal ruling in his favour. He lost. 

The systemic unfairness that results from this level of resource inequality is one of the main reasons why the biennial publication by access to justice charity the Legal Action Group, Employment law — an adviser’s handbook, is so important. 

Now in its 11th edition, the author is Tamara Lewis, an acknowledged expert with 25 years’ experience advising claimants at the Central London Law Centre. 

The book is a terrific resource for busy and underfunded claimant representatives, as well as the growing number of unrepresented litigants like Mr Smith. In addition to providing comprehensive, reliable and accessible information on an ever-changing range of individual employment rights, the book includes plenty of checklists, samples and examples.