If you are a claimant

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 are different time limits for different matters and these are explained in the appropriate guides or booklets produced by the Department's Employment Rights Division (see useful contacts) or visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/employment.

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

Pre-Claim Conciliation

On 3rd April 2011 The Labour Relations Agency (LRA) published a new Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures which (for claimants) replaces the statutory workplace grievance procedures for new complaints after that date.

To complement the Code of Practice a new process known as Pre-Claim Conciliation has been introduced which aims to assist all parties to an employment complaint find an acceptable solution that means that there is no need for the matter to be brought to a tribunal.  If you opt to use this service, you should contact the Labour Relations Agency who will put you in contact with a Conciliation Officer who will explain the service and answer any questions that you might have.

Getting help with a claim

Your trade union or a Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to give you help with your claim.  For information relating to employment matters you may wish to contact the Labour Relations Agency.

In claims under the Equal Pay Act (Northern Ireland) 1970, the Sex Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 1976, the Race Relations Order (Northern Ireland) 1997, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003,or the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 you may wish to contact the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

According to your financial circumstances, you may also be entitled to Legal Aid for the purpose of obtaining legal advice in connection with a claim to a tribunal and the preparation of a case for hearing (but not for representation at the hearing).  Information about Legal Aid is available from the Legal Services Agency Northern Ireland.

Making a claim

You can make your claim to the tribunal on-line, however if you require a manual claim form it can be obtained from the Office of the Tribunals.

Your claim cannot be registered unless it meets certain conditions.  For example, it cannot be registered if you have not given the mandatory / required information in one or more of the sections of the claim form.  A claim to an industrial tribunal must state: -

a) each claimant’s name and address;
b) each claimant’s gender and date of birth
c) the name(s) and address(es) of each person against whom the claim is made, (the respondent(s));
d) full detail of the claim(s) which you are making to inform the person or body complained against, of the case which has to be met;

Statutory dispute resolution

You are advised that The Employment Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 came into operation on 3rd April 2011.

The Act makes provision about the procedures for the resolution of employment disputes and the procedures of industrial tribunals and the Fair Employment Tribunal.

Key aspects of the Act (for tribunal claimants) involve:

  • the repeal (for claimants) of the statutory workplace grievance procedures, while leaving intact the statutory dismissal and disciplinary procedures(for employers/respondents)
  • the repeal of provisions linking grievance /dismissal procedures with industrial tribunal and Fair Employment Tribunal time limits.

If you are in the process of making a claim to the tribunals' it is important that you understand whether or not any part of the Employment Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 applies to you or your claim.  If you need help or information on whether or not these procedures apply to you, you can contact the Labour Relations Agency.


An industrial tribunal will decide if your claim is well founded at, or following, a hearing at which you and the person or body against whom you are complaining may attend and speak.  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.

Receipt of the claim

The Office of the Tribunals will acknowledge receipt of your claim as soon as they have processed it.  If your claim is accepted a copy of it will be sent to the respondent.  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.

Further correspondence

After you have made your claim, any further correspondence about the case should be sent to the Office of the Tribunals.  At the same time you should send a copy to the respondent.  You should also notify the Office of the Tribunals promptly of any change of address.  Correspondence will usually be copied to any other party to the proceedings.

Withdrawal of claim

If you are the claimant and you decide to withdraw your claim before the commencement of the hearing, you must let the Office of the Tribunals know at the earliest possible moment and confirm this in writing.  Without your written request for withdrawal, the tribunal may proceed to hear the case, even in your absence.