Self representation is surging in Employment Tribunals - 7 tools that can help
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Nearly 1 in 3 Employment Tribunal cases are now brought by claimants who are representing themselves. These “litigants in person” face a complex, confusing system, but there are tools and resources that can help.
Why is self-representation growing?
Self-representation increased dramatically in 2017, rising over 400% in just a three year period and reaching a historic high since 2020.
(Source: GOV.UK Tribunal statistics)
There are three main reasons cited for the increase:
- The removal of Employment Tribunal fees. Introduced in 2014 and abolished in 2017, this fee had a huge impact on the lowest-paid employees ability to lodge a complaint. With this fee abolished, a disproportionate amount of litigants in person began lodging claims.
- The ability to lodge a Tribunal Claim online. This functionality was introduced in 2013/14 which allowed claimants to lodge their ET1 Tribunal Claim form using a GOV.UK online service, simplifying the process.
- The increasing lack of affordable legal services. Legal aid was cut in 2013, resulting in a 90% reduction in funding for legal services to consumers, including support for employment law. As a result, 2 out of 3 UK citizens now report that legal services are too expensive.
An imbalance of power
While many employees are now self-representing, employers still generally work with lawyers - 77% of employers are represented by a lawyer in Employment Tribunal hearings. This sets out a massive power imbalance between the two sides, and often leaves the employee feeling overwhelmed and out of their depth.
7 helpful resources and tools for litigants in person
Despite the power imbalance, there is a growing amount of support for litigants in person to level the playing field. Here are 7 resources and tools to help litigants in person managing their own Employment Tribunal case:
- Use a self-representation tool for Employment Tribunal: Valla is a custom-built tool for litigants in person in Employment Tribunal to run their own case, with document templates, evidence collection and legal coaches that can support for hearing prep and more.
- Watch mock Employment Tribunals online: YouTube has a number of mock employment Tribunals that are free to watch, including one from Wright Hassall and HR recruit.
- Observe real Employment Tribunal cases: litigants in person can use the Court Serve website to find real cases and request to observe them - giving you a much better idea of how the process will go.
- Attend an Employment Tribunal support groups: There are a number of support groups and forums online for litigants in person, including the Employment Tribunal Claims DIY Group, the Employment Tribunal subreddit, and the monthly Employment Tribunal Support Group event hosted by Valla and Donna Patterson, a successful litigant in person.
- Read real cases online: the Employment Tribunal Decisions website from GOV.UK is an incredibly helpful resource to find previous cases like your own, and Valla’s Real Examples page has summarised many of these cases for easier reference.
- Read the book on self-representation: Bath Publishing have released a helpful DIY book for litigants in person in Employment Tribunal, packed with useful templates and legal information.
- Download the Employment Tribunal map: if you’re just trying to get a handle on how the whole process works, this free map can help you understand the major steps.
You are not alone
It’s easy to feel like you’re fighting a lonely battle as a litigant in person, but you’re definitely not alone - more and more people are choosing to represent themselves to get justice.