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Mock Employment Tribunal

Mock Employment Tribunal

Burness Paull & Williamsons’ annual Mock Employment Tribunal event took place for the fourth year running on Tuesday 12 March.  The event was a great success with over 110 line managers and HR professionals attending from all over Scotland to watch members of the Employment Team from each of our three offices and a real Employment Tribunal Panel enact an authentic, yet fictional, tribunal hearing from start to finish.

The event provided attendees with an invaluable opportunity to experience a full mock tribunal hearing along with an insight into the questioning of witnesses, legal arguments and the inevitable twists and turns of a live hearing. It was great for those of us involved in to hear from the attendees that the event helped them gain a better understanding of the workings of a tribunal, how cases are decided in practice and what particular factors are taken into account by the tribunal panel when reaching their decision.

This year the tribunal panel consisted of Nicol Hosie, Employment Judge, with lay members Penny Letts and Robin Bowden. 

The Respondent, Alfaldoon Construction Limited, was represented by Margaret Gibson and the Claimant, Mr Harmeet Singh played by Sean Saluja, was represented by David Burnside. The case involved a claim of unfair dismissal and religious discrimination brought by Mr Singh, a Sikh construction worker, who had been dismissed by the Respondent following a Health and Safety Policy breach. Tricia Walker, Caroline Cockbain and Daniel Gunn also gave what some have described as potential “BAFTA-worthy” performances as witnesses on behalf of the Respondent in the case.

After all the evidence had been heard, the papers thoroughly scrutinised, and the legal submissions given by each of the representatives, the tribunal panel adjourned to reach a decision.

While the panel was deliberating, everybody had a chance to discuss the pros and cons of both the Claimant and the Respondent’s arguments and took a quick vote on who we thought was going to win. It would be fair to say that the room was divided with no clear front-runner indentified.

Before the tribunal panel returned, attendees had an opportunity to ask Sean, Margaret and David questions about various employment issues that arose in the case and with hindsight, how both the Claimant and the Respondent might have improved their legal positions prior to the hearing.

After much deliberation and consideration, the tribunal returned with the verdict. The suspense was palpable. Although the Employment Judge thought the case was very finely balanced, the Claimant just clinched it and was found to have been unfairly dismissed. His discrimination claim was rejected, however, with the tribunal concluding that the Claimant had failed to prove that dismissal was because of his religious beliefs. A total of £30,564 was awarded but after a significant 65% reduction for contributory fault on the part of the Claimant was applied, the final figure awarded to the Claimant was £10,697.

If you attended this years Mock Employment Tribunal, and haven’t already completed a feedback form, please let us know what you thought by clicking on the following link. Alternatively, feel free to leave us a comment below, or email us directly.

Jennifer Packham
Senior Solicitor