A Northampton-based employer was facing the prospect of an Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination. They had a strong defence and sought expert legal advice from HCR Hewitsons to resolve the case.
We handled the pre-action Acas early conciliation processes on our client’s behalf. We also prepared the defence to the proceedings and represented them at the preliminary hearing that was held to give case management directions. These directions included dealing with the way forward on the disputed issue of whether the claimant was a disabled person for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010.
Although it was clear that client’s defence was strong, they wished to settle, for understandable practical and commercial reasons.
This was therefore a case that was best handled via mediation, rather than a full tribunal hearing with all the costs and management time involved.
We recommended a judicial mediation rather than one involving another form of external mediator. This was because although the value of any claim would be small, the claimant believed it was worth far more. A judicial mediation would allow the claimant to hear the reality of the value of their claim directly from an employment judge.
We handled all the preparation for the judicial mediation and acted as the advocate for the client at the mediation hearing. This took place at the employment tribunal offices with an employment judge as mediator.
The mediation achieved a very successful outcome for our client. The proceedings came to an end within a day for a small, acceptable settlement sum.
Our approach saved the client costs and management time of having to carry on the process of dealing with the claim, including the costs of appointing a medical expert to deal with the issue of disability.
Following the conclusion of the matter, Nick Hall, Employment and Immigration Partner at HCR’s Northampton office, commented: “It is always necessary to consider the bigger picture. Whilst sometimes the most appropriate way forward is to fight a claim all the way to an Employment Tribunal hearing, the costs and management time of doing so always need to be factored into the decision-making process. Here, the client adopted an understandably pragmatic and cost-effective approach, and we were pleased to be able to assist in that with our recommendation of an alternative method of dispute resolution, being judicial mediation, in order for the claimant to properly understand the value of their claim.”