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Tribunal Pleadings

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Should parties avoid using a 'narrative' style in their ET1s and ET3s?

Yes, held the EAT in C v D.

The Claimant appealed against the refusal of an application to amend to add claims of disability harassment and reasonable adjustments failures. In allowing the appeal the EAT made some observations about the increasing norm that is using a narrative style for employment tribunal pleadings.

A statement of case, especially one drafted by a lawyer, should not contain a detailed explanation of factual events. A succinct and clear drafting style is encouraged. The purpose of a claim form is to formally initiate legal proceedings. It should set out the legal claims with sufficient facts but should not be in the kind of detail one expects of a witness statement. The purpose is to allow the other side to understand what they have done or not done which is said to be unlawful and for them to be able to respond using 'admit', 'not admit' or 'deny'.

The task in hand is to distil the relevant factual matters to their key components. Doing so may be more difficult or take longer but it is time well spent and may save time and cost down the line. The narrative form of pleading makes the task of the Employment Judge more difficult.

Note to practitioners: get more brownie points from the Judge with succinct pleadings.
Thanks to Karen Jackson of didlaw for preparing this case summary