Hannah Johnson


DATE PUBLISHED: 19 Jan 2022 LAST UPDATED: 19 Jan 2022

Has your business been contacted by ACAS?

If yes, this is likely to have been from an ACAS Conciliator notifying you of ‘Early Conciliation’ being initiated.

What is ACAS Early Conciliation?

An individual must notify ACAS that they intend to pursue an Employment Tribunal claim. The individual will be offered the option of trying Early Conciliation or taking their dispute direct to the Tribunal.

Early Conciliation is a free service that can be used to attempt to reach a resolution between the parties and avoid the need to lodge a claim. It is a very useful process to see whether a resolution can be reached at an early stage before both parties needing to engage in lengthy, stressful and costly Tribunal proceedings.

The ACAS Conciliator will act impartially between the parties to help facilitate an agreement, over a period of up to six weeks.

Any discussions during Early conciliation remain confidential, and if an agreement is reached then a legally binding agreement will be produced.

If an agreement cannot be reached (or the individual opts not to try Early Conciliation), ACAS will issue an Certificate, enabling the individual to lodge a claim.

Should your business engage in Early Conciliation?

It is not mandatory for either party to participate in Early Conciliation, so when you receive notification you can confirm you do not wish to conciliate and ACAS will usually produce the Certificate at that stage.

We often advise businesses to participate in the Early Conciliation process, particularly as this will allow you to know in advance the details of the potential claim and provide you with the opportunity to resolve the complaints.

The individual will usually set out the claims they intend to pursue and their expectations for compensation. At this stage, we can assess and advise your business on whether the potential claims have prospects and whether the offer is reasonable (if not, what a Tribunal would likely award).

To defend a Tribunal claim, it is incredibly time consuming, costly and carries reputational risk as Tribunal judgments now appear in the public domain, so this early opportunity to settle the matter is one we always recommend exploring. If a settlement is reached, this will be dealt with in a confidential and legally binding COT3 agreement.

If an agreement cannot be reached during Early Conciliation and a claim is lodged, ACAS will continue to be involved for the duration of the Tribunal process so there will always be other opportunities to negotiate and continue settlement discussions.

How can we help?

We have vast experience in representing businesses during the Early Conciliation process, advising on the risks and value of potential claims, providing advice on reasonable settlement and negotiating on your behalf to try to achieve the best result for your business. If a claim is lodged, we can assist you in defending the claim while continuing a dialogue via ACAS to attempt to reach a resolution.

Any questions?

If you have received an Early Conciliation notification or a Tribunal claim, or wish to discuss any concerns regarding your workforce, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced Employment Lawyers on 01202 525333 for further advice.

How can we help?

When you submit this form an email will be sent to the relevant department who will contact you within 48 hours. If you require urgent advice please call 01202 525333.

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