Defending employment tribunal claims

7th May 2021

The employment tribunal lists judgments on their website which is open to the public by clicking here.

Over the past year or so we have seen several cases listed on the employment tribunal judgment website that were determined by rule 21 of the Employment Tribunals Rules of Procedure 2013 (as amended).

What is rule 21 and how does it work?

Rule 21 kicks in when the Respondent (usually the employer):-

  • omits to lodge a defence;
  • lodges a defence that is rejected; and/or
  • lodges a defence but does not contest the claim.

When rule 21 triggers, the Employment Judge will consider whether, on the evidence available, they can come to a conclusion on all or part of the claim.  Where they can, the Employment Judge will issue a Judgment.  Otherwise, they will request a hearing but the Respondent will only be permitted to participate in that hearing to the extent permitted by the Judge.

What are the recent cases?

The recent cases are:-

  • Mr J Clarke v Tyne Tools Limited
  • Mrs A Bryne v Tyne Tools Limited
  • Ms M Antill-Kelly v BL634 Limited
  • Miss R Perkins v Crab Shack Restaurants Limited

How did rule 21 affect these cases?

In these cases, the Employment Judge focused on providing the judgment and so we have limited information as to what was at the heart of the case and the circumstances giving rise to them.  However, what is of interest is that every single claimant won.

Mr J Clarke and Mrs Bryne’s case was decided in their favour and referred to a remedy hearing, i.e. to determine their compensation.

Ms Antill-Kelly’s hearing was cancelled but the Employment Judge determined that she was entitled to the redundancy pay.  Similarly, Miss Perkin’s claim for accrued but unpaid wages was successful and an award of compensation made.

How does this affect my business?

Every organisation is different and owners of businesses will run theirs how they want to and so, depending on the circumstances, rule 21 may have been their best option in the above referenced cases. However, our advice would always be to lodge a defence to ensure that your version of events and evidence is taken into consideration.  This allows you to retain some involvement in the case and therefore the opportunity to reach a settlement with the claimant to avoid any default judgments against your business.

If you would like to discuss any employment issues arising from this article, whether that is concerns over a potential claim, tips and tactics for ongoing claims or assistance at tribunal, please do not hesitate to speak to a member of the employment team on 01325 466794 and ask for Anthony Willis,  Alternatively email:

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