Defending employment claims on two fronts - the Employment Tribunal and the court of public opinion


In the employment team here at Howard Kennedy we are often asked how ‘private’ Employment Tribunal claims are. The answer is that, broadly, the nitty-gritty of a claim and the allegations it contains (and the respondent’s defence) is only available to the press once the final trial starts. Before that, it’s normally only possible for the press to discover the names of the parties involved, what type of claim is involved (unfair dismissal, discrimination, etc) and possibly the dates of any hearings at the Tribunal.

This can be a double-edged sword. 

Clients normally want to stay out of the limelight altogether, and are glad for the privacy that comes with the restricted press access to Tribunal documents. 

But what if a client has been accused of making discriminatory and derogatory comments? And what if the fact of that accusation has been in the national press, but the client hasn’t yet had the chance to defend themselves in an open Tribunal? I have never suggested to a client that he could wave around a notebook in front of the press saying “I didn’t do it”; but then I’m not advising on the Eva Carneiro case.

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On his return to his London home on Tuesday Mourinho was seen holding a bundle of papers clearly marked “Employment Tribunal”, relating to Dr Carneiro’s sexism claim brought against him. On a piece of paper referring to the employment tribunal the phrase “I have never heard this allegation before” is clearly visible.
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