How to make a claim

Before making a claim

If you think you have a claim for an industrial tribunal to consider, you should make sure that the tribunal has the jurisdiction to deal with the claim you wish to raise, and that you submit your claim within the time limit allowed. There is a helpful list of jurisdictions in our forms and guidance documents section.

There are different time limits for different matters. Most tribunal claims must be made within three months of the incident, but this can vary and will be subject to the early conciliation process. Tribunals will only extend the time limit in exceptional circumstances. As we can't give advice, you may wish to seek independent help if you're not sure about a time limit.

Failure to make your claim within the time limit may deprive you of the right to have your claim heard by an industrial tribunal.

Early Conciliation

From 27 January 2020, most people who wish to lodge a claim with the Industrial Tribunals or Fair Employment Tribunal will first have to notify the Labour Relations Agency (LRA) and discuss the option of Early Conciliation. Potential claimants will not be able to proceed to tribunal without at least considering this option.

Where potential claimants either decide not to avail of Early Conciliation or if the process does not achieve a settlement, an Early Conciliation Certificate will be issued by the LRA. Claimants going on to present a claim to the tribunals must be able to provide the certificate number in order for their claim to proceed. Early submission of your claim without a valid Early Conciliation certificate may lead to the claim not being accepted.

Tribunal claims usually have to be presented within three or six months of the alleged incident or behaviour, depending on the type of claim. Early Conciliation allows time (up to a calendar month, with an additional two weeks if needed) for a settlement to be discussed without affecting the deadline for a Tribunal claim. However, it is still important that potential claimants don’t delay in making the initial Early Conciliation notification to the LRA, otherwise they may find that a future claim cannot be accepted.

For more information about Early Conciliation, and exemptions that apply to it, contact the LRA’s Workplace Information Service on 03300 555 300 or go to the LRA website.

Getting help with a claim

The following organisations may provide sources of assistance or advice to participants:

Your Trade union

Check your home insurance policy – you may have legal cover for employment matters


Labour Relations Agency

2-16 Gordon Street




Tel:              0330 055 2220



Free, impartial and confidential employment relations service to those engaged in industry, commerce and the public services as well as conciliation and arbitration services. 



Equality Commission 

Equality House

7-9 Shaftesbury Square


BT2 7dp


Tel:              02890 500600



Free and confidential advice and support for people with complaints of discrimination



Law Centre NI

Westgate House

2-4 Queen Street




Tel:               02890 244401



Guides:        Resource library | Law Centre Northern Ireland (

Free, independent and specialist legal advice, casework and representation.



Advice NI

1 Rushfield Avenue




Tel:               02890 645919





Protect-Advice Organisation

The Green House

244-245 Cambridge Heath Road


E2 9DA


Tel:              020 3117 2520


Provide advice for whistleblowers



Ulster University Law Clinic

Room BA-05-015

University of Ulster

York Street


BT15 1ED


Tel:              02895 367249





The Bar of NI

91 Chichester Street




Tel:              02890 241523




Legal Aid Legislation & Guidance

Department of Justice

Block B, Castle Buildings

Stormont Estate




Tel:              02890 527668


You may present your case yourself. If you wish you may at any time nominate a person to represent you with their agreement e.g. trade union official, solicitor etc. You should name your representative on your claim form and obtain their advice on the completion of that form. Correspondence will thereafter be sent to your representative but you will be informed of the date, time and place of the Industrial Tribunal hearing and you will be sent your own copy of the Industrial Tribunal’s decision in due course.  Make sure that your representative keeps you informed of the progress of your claim.

Making a claim

Please note it is your responsibility to ensure that the information you have provided on the form is accurate. The form is known as an ET1 claim form. Please ensure that you have read and understood the guidance notes before submitting your claim form.

There are several ways of submitting a claim:

We would encourage you to submit your claim online as it is a much quicker way of submitting your claim directly to us.

If you submit your claim to us on-line or electronically, you do not need to send a hard copy to us by post.

Your claim cannot be registered unless it meets certain conditions: 

  1. You must use the prescribed form
  2. The respondent must reside or carry out business in Northern Ireland;
  3. The act or omission complained of took place in Northern Ireland;
  4. The claim relates to a contract under which work is or has been performed partly in Northern Ireland; or
  5. The tribunal has jurisdiction to determine the claim by virtue of a connection with Northern Ireland.

In addition your claim form must include the following information:

  1. The name and address of each claimant and each respondent; and one of the following:
  2. An early conciliation certificate number; or  

           - confirmation that the claim does not start any relevant proceedings; or

           - confirmation that an early conciliation exemption applies; and

      3. Details describing the basis for the claim.

Helpful tips – please ensure that the details on your claim form match exactly the details contained on your Early Conciliation Certificate otherwise your claim may be rejected.

If you are claiming against more than one respondent, you must provide an Early Conciliation Certificate number for each respondent otherwise your claim against that respondent may be rejected.

Claim rejection

It is very important that you to read the guidance notes that accompany the claim form to avoid having your claim rejected. If your claim does not contain the information required as set out in “Making a claim”, it will be returned to you with a notice of rejection giving the employment judge’s reasons for rejecting the claim, or part of it. The notice will contain information about how to apply for a reconsideration of the rejection.

Multiple Claimants

Two or more claimants may make their claims on the same claim form if their claims are based on the same set of facts. Where two or more claimants wrongly include claims on the same claims form, this shall be treated as an irregularity falling under Rule 7.

Receipt of the claim

If you submit your claim form using the online option above, an automatic acknowledgement will be issued to you otherwise the office will acknowledge receipt of your claim as soon as it has been registered. This may take up to 6 weeks. 

When your claim is registered a copy of it will be sent to the respondent(s). We will inform the respondent(s) in writing about how to present a response to your claim, the time limit for doing so and what may happen if a response is not entered within the time limit. You will be sent a copy of the response after it has been vetted.


If your claim has been rejected in whole or in part, you may apply for a reconsideration on the basis that either the decision to reject was wrong or the notified defect can be rectified.

  • You must make your application in writing within 14 days of the date that the notice of rejection was sent to you.
  • You must explain why the decision is said to have been wrong or rectify the defect; and
  • You must state whether you are requesting a hearing.

If you do not request a hearing, or an employment judge decides on considering your application that the claim should be accepted in full, the application will be considered without a hearing. If the matter proceeds to a hearing it will be attended only by the claimant.

If the employment judge decides that the original rejection was correct but that the defect has been rectified, the claim shall be treated as presented on the date that the defect was rectified.

If the employment judge decides that the original rejection was wrong, the claim (or part) will be accepted from the date on which it was presented.

Protected Disclosure claims

If your claim alleges a protected disclosure within the meaning of Article 67A [] of the Employment Rights Order, the employment judge may, with the consent of the claimant, direct the Secretary to send a copy of an accepted claim, or part of it, to a regulator listed in Schedule 1 [] to the Public Interest Disclosure (Prescribed Persons) Order (Northern Ireland) 1999.

It would be helpful if you would indicate, at the appropriate section of the claim form, whether you consent to a copy of your claim being provided to a Regulator and identify who you believe that Regulator to be.

Interim Relief Claims

If you believe you have been unfairly dismissed for one of the reasons listed below you can apply to a tribunal for ‘interim relief’.

  • For making a protected disclosure within the meaning of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (whistleblowing).
  • For seeking to exercise the right to be accompanied at (or to accompany someone else to) a disciplinary or grievance hearing.
  • For acting as a workers’ representative: - dismissal of a safety representative or a member of a safety committee for a reason connected with that role; - dismissal of a workers’ representative in connection with the Working Time Regulations; - dismissal of an employee trustee of an occupational pension scheme for a reason connected with that role
  • For trade union related reasons: - dismissal for reasons related to trade union membership or non-membership or trade union activity; - dismissal resulting from obstruction or promotion of official recognition of a trade union
  • For exercising or seeking to exercise the right to be accompanied to a meeting to discuss a request not to retire or for accompanying or seeking to accompany a fellow employee to such a meeting

If the tribunal grants your application for interim relief your employment will be legally continued until the case is decided and you will receive your salary or wages. If you were dismissed for one of the above reasons and you want to make an application for interim relief the tribunal must receive your claim within seven days of your dismissal. You may also want to seek advice.