I've read the same statistic twice this week from various sources:
'Statistics show that around 80% of employment claims do not go to a full hearing'.
First, this was quoted in connection with Adrian Beecroft's leaked attack on employees last week. Then it turned up in a promotional pack for a lawyer touting anti-Claimant seminars.
Read out of context, of course, it implies that 80% of claims lodged are unjustified or bogus.
The true picture, however, is that the legal system throws everything they can at Claimants to encourage settlement. I have no problem with this as such, because going to Court can be hugely expensive and stressful. Also, it rarely brings the kind of justice people really want – the sort where the bully ends up crying and apologising from the witness box. But to then exploit settlement figures to paint a picture of litigant hungry employees is fundamentally wrong.
This was further demonstrated by a lady who got in contact with me this week to ask for my advice.
Having lost her job after an unpleasant case of racial bullying, my anonymous friend had secured Legal Aid. She was determined to go to trial and asked her panel solicitor at the outset: 'Will this cost me anything?' Her solicitor assured her it would not. As time went on, her solicitor tried everything to tempt her to settle. She was resolute. She wanted her day in Court. Then, a week before the hearing, her solicitor said: 'Do you have the money for a barrister? It's going to cost you £750.'
The poor lady was distraught. She did't have the money.
This happened to me, of course, written about in my blog 'Impossible Causes'. Back in the summer of 2010 I faced the same previously unmentioned, insurmountable hurdle of barrister's fees, quoted at the last minute, in the region of £10,000.
There is, of course, no reason why her solicitor couldn't represent her at the informal Employment Tribunal. Equally, there was no real reason why my solicitor couldn't have represented me either. In the end, she decided to ask for an adjournment until she could raise the money.
I now wonder how often solicitors use barrister's fees as their 'trump card' to get their own way. It's not really surprising, therefore, that I'm annoyed that this 80% settlement figure is used as an indication of money-grabbing fraudsters, when more often that not, it's the Claimant's inability to raise any money at all which forces settlement.
- Bullied By The Boss
- Welcome to my blog. My pen name is Eva James. I'm an aspiring writer paying the bills working as a legal secretary. Relentlessly bullied by my former boss, I looked for another job but the recession hit. Feeling trapped, I recorded everything in this blog, which serves as a revealing insight into workplace bullying. WEEK 1 starts the story and, as the weeks progress, you'll note what starts as banter soon spirals out of control. Sadly, it's all true. Whilst along the way I've found alternative employment, my passion for blogging about workplace bullying remains. Trevor Griffiths, legendary theatre, TV and film writer said at the outset, "I like the writing a lot: smart, cool, placed. If you were prepared/able to take your prick of a boss on, you'd marmelise him."