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Unsure of your equality rights or the law? We can provide advice and assistance for people who feel they have been discriminated against.
 
 

Information from the Respondent

Tribunals

What you need to know

 
How to gather information from the Respondent

In this section of the guide, the focus is on the process of obtaining relevant documents and information from the Respondent to support your claim of discrimination. 

The office of the tribunal will send a copy of your ET1 claim form to the Respondent along with a blank ET3 form.  The Respondent will respond on the ET3 form within 28 days of the date on which you submitted your claim to the tribunal.  They can request an extension of time, but must apply to the tribunal within the 28 day period.

The Respondent’s response to your claim becomes a summary of their case.  Don't write any comments on the ET3 form, as it may need to be photocopied and shown to the tribunal.  If you have any comments, write them on a separate sheet.

Occasionally, Respondents don't respond but this is quite rare.  If no response is received the tribunal might make a judgment on your case that is automatically in your favour.  This is called a default judgment.


What if I disagree with the Respondent’s response?

You may strongly disagree with the Respondent’s response, but you shouldn’t write to the Respondent or the tribunal about what is said in the ET3.  At this stage, getting involved in arguments about what's been said is unproductive and might damage your case or negotiating position.

When you look at the ET3 form, try to work out where you disagree with the Respondent.  Then work out what evidence you'll need to challenge what the Respondent has said.  Get together as much of this evidence as you can.

What documents or additional information might prove useful?

One of the most important documents is the Respondent’s response form, ET3.  The first step is to check your file of documents and consider what other documents or additional information might prove useful. 

Try to imagine what documents the Respondent might have that would be relevant to your case.  These might include:
 
  • policies and procedures
  • protocols
  • letters
  • memos
  • emails
  • minutes of meetings
  • your recruitment or your personnel file if you are an employee; 
  • copies of documents relating to specific events such as any disciplinary proceedings taken against you, or any details of promotion applications made by you, for example; or
  • any other documents that relate to the case
 

How do I request the documents?

You can write to the Respondent listing all the specific documents you consider relevant to your claim.  This letter can be referred to as a Notice for Discovery 

The Respondent has a duty to disclose documents that are relevant to the issues in dispute in the case.
 

What happens if I don't receive the documents?

What if the Respondent doesn´t give me the documents I seek?

If the Respondent does not provide the documents you seek then you are entitled to apply for an ‘Order for Discovery’ (the Order) from the tribunal.  Before seeking the Order, write to remind the Respondent that it has failed to provide the documentation and that if they do not do so within a specified period you will seek an Order from the tribunal.

If the Respondent still doesn’t provide the documents then write to the tribunal requesting a hearing at which your request for an Order for Discovery will he heard and decided.  

The tribunal normally won't make an order if they think you're asking for too much, or your questions aren't relevant to the case.  Remember, you can only ask for information that gives evidence to support your case, or against the Respondent’s case.

The Respondent can use the same procedure to ask you for information and documents.  It’s important that you carry out this request, particularly if the tribunal makes an order.
 

What are tribunal directions or orders?

Tribunal directions or orders are instructions about what should happen in the case, to make sure things are happening properly and on time.  For example, there might be directions about deadlines for when you and the Respondent have to send each other witness statements or other documents.  Treat directions and orders from the tribunal seriously as there may be problems if you don't do what's instructed.
 

Gathering more information about the Respondent's case

You can gather more information or detail about the Respondent’s case in ways other than seeking documents.  Do not become overly concerned about which procedure to use as the tribunal is a less formal system and the choice of acquiring information will not be fatal to your claim.  Each of these processes can be commenced by you without the need to obtain permission from the tribunal. 

There are two ways this can be done:

1. Questionnaire Procedure
You can ask written questions about the treatment you endured and their policies and practices that might be relevant to how you feel you were discriminated against.  This process is referred to as a Statutory Questionnaire procedure.  This questionnaire is sent to the Respondent within 21 days of the receipt of your claim to the Tribunal.  The answers provided by the Respondent are admissible in evidence at a hearing before the Tribunal. 

For example, where the claim relates to recruitment and selection, you would commonly look for details about the:
 
  • composition of the panel;
  • equality training the panel had undergone;
  • shortlisting criteria;
  • interview notes and questions, including details of the successful candidates.


You could include a request for documents and although the Respondent is not obliged to comply very often they do.  A reasonable period for reply is 8 weeks.

An advantage of the Questionnaire procedure, is if the Respondent fails to answer a question or questions then the tribunal can draw adverse, or negative, conclusions about the Respondent’s case. The Commission has produced 'Frequently Asked Questions' on the Questions Procedure. 
 

2. Notice for Additional Information (sometimes called a Notice for Further and Better Particulars)
You can seek additional information from the Respondent and they can also seek additional information from you.  To start this process write to the Respondent asking for further details about certain specified matters.  Ensure that the information you request is relevant and specific to your claim as the Respondent could claim the request is too vague. 

The "particulars" of your case are the details of the discrimination claim that you are making and other relevant information, including:
 

  • the nature and amount of your loss;
  • when and how the discrimination happened;
  • which of the Respondent’s employees were involved, etc.

If either party does not furnish the requested information both may seek an Order for Additional Information from the tribunal.  On occasions, a tribunal will provide a party with a second opportunity to comply.  However failure to comply with a Tribunal order could result in a claim being struck out, meaning you would not be allowed to pursue your case.   Link to ‘Letter from Claimant to OITFET Seeking Order for Additional Information’

The other sanction for failing to comply is to award the costs associated with the order against the defaulting party.
 
 
 
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