Pursuing your own case at the WRC or Labour Court?
If you are bringing your own employment claims to the WRC or Labour Court you will need to prepare a submission in advance. The purpose of this submission will be to set out your case and persuade the adjudicator or Labour Court to find in your favour when it comes to determining whether your claim will succeed or fail.
Most submissions that I have seen, and prepared, follow the same general format. This will involve setting out
- The background to the claims and what those claims are
- The events and facts which gave rise to the claims
- The law surrounding the specific claims you have brought to the decision-making body, whether WRC or Labour Court
- A conclusion or answer to the question of what remedy you are seeking from the WRC or Labour Court.
Let’s take a look at the broad outline I suggest.
This can set the scene for the claims and set out who is the claimant, who is the respondent, what the claims are, and what event(s) gave rise to the complaint.
Proving the facts
To win your case you will firstly need to prove the facts or events which support your case.
There may be a minor or major conflict of story or narrative between what you have to say and what the employer says. If that is the case the decision maker will be faced with a ‘conflict of evidence’ and will have to decide which version of events is the most credible.
This is where your evidence arises. The purpose of your evidence is to support and put a foundation under your story, your version of events. The more evidence, the better.
The quality of evidence can span a wide range of quality.
For example, you may be giving direct oral evidence which will be your version of events delivered verbally. However, there may be no witnesses in which case the danger of a ‘swearing match’ will arise-that is, you saying one thing and the employer saying something completely different.
Documentary evidence, therefore, is of vital importance, if you have any.
This could include the contract of employment, letters, emails, text messages, investigation reports, disciplinary outcomes, cctv, and so on.
Witness evidence would also carry significant weight. But witnesses can be hard to come by in employment disputes. Employees sometimes afraid of repercussions if they give evidence against their employer in a dispute.
This is understandable, let’s be honest about it.
The bottom line is you will need to prove the facts and events which led up to your claim.
Proving the law
You will also need to prove that the law is on your side. This may involve a combination of statute law, common law, decided cases, legal principles, and more.
No matter how you do it, you will need to prove that you have the law on your side. This can be easy or incredibly difficult.
For example, proving the law is on your side in respect of being given a written contract of employment is straightforward.
All you have to do is refer to relevant section (section 3) of the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994.
If you can then prove that the employer did not give you a written statement you will win this claim.
This is a simple example of being able to prove the facts and the law and a genuine pleading, as a consequence, for the WRC or Labour Court to find in your favour.
Other cases can be far more complex, however, and may involve a range of claims.
The final part of your submission will be a wrapping up or conclusion, and an indication of the remedy you are seeking. For example, an unfair dismissal claim, if successful, can lead to reengagement, reinstatement, or compensation. The Adjudication Officer does have discretion as to which one is appropriate, but it is useful to let the AO know what you are seeking, if successful.
What I have outlined above is only a guide but it is one I use at WRC and Labour Court hearings and one I have noted the top firms use.
The reality is, however, that if I was given the choice between being able to choose my facts or choose my law I would opt for the facts. For if the facts are on your side it will be a much simpler task to win your case.