What is an ET3 form?

What is an ET3 form?

An ET3 form is an important document in Employment Tribunal proceedings. An ET3 sets out the Respondent’s position (the Respondent is the person or organisation that a claim is brought against), including any defences to what is alleged. The Respondent is required to submit this form to the Employment Tribunal within the specified timeframe.

 The ET3 contains various questions, some of which are mandatory, such as whether or not the Respondent contests all or part of the claim. It is open to the Respondent to provide further detail in a separate document commonly referred to as grounds of resistance.

What is important to know about an ET3 form?


1. There are tight timeframes for completing it

The Respondent must lodge the ET3 within 28 days of receiving the Claimant’s ET1 from the Employment Tribunal. This means that action should be taken as soon as possible in order to have sufficient time to draft an effective response.

If the parties took part in early conciliation, this time would be in addition to the deadline referred to above (because early conciliation occurs before the claim is lodged (the ET1). To answer the question what is early conciliation? Read our blog by clicking on the link.  The early conciliation period should be used to find out what is being alleged, whether or not settlement during the early conciliation period would be appropriate (such as when agreement can be reached to settle a matter concerning wages), and to prepare for the ET3 if resolution, during the early conciliation period, is not possible. If engaged in correctly, the discussions during early conciliation should  mean that, if a claim was submitted to the Employment Tribunal, its contents should come as no surprise.


2. There may be severe consequences for not submitting an ET3 form on time, or for it being completed incorrectly


If a Respondent does not submit the documentation within the required timeframe, an Employment Tribunal judge has the discretion to limit the Respondent’s participation in proceedings to the extent that is deemed to be appropriate.


3. The ET3 (and grounds of resistance) should fully set out the Respondent’s position


The ET3 (and grounds of resistance) are central to how a Respondent addresses the claim. As well as setting out an account of what happened, the documentation should also articulate any defences to the claim.

4. The ET3 is only one element of Employment Tribunal proceedings


There are a number of stages involved in Employment Tribunal proceedings, and drafting the ET3 documentation is simply one of those elements. For example, depending on the issues raised and the complexity of the case, there may be more than one hearing.

In addition to the hearing(s) themselves, there are the various tasks which are necessary to ensure all runs smoothly.  

Why obtain professional advice with an ET3 form?

1. A failure to provide the right information in an ET3 may permanently damage the outcomes that could be achieved


Care should be taken when drafting this documentation. A failure to include relevant information, at that stage, may be an error which cannot be corrected later. By way of an example, in an unfair dismissal case a Respondent is required to specify the reason for dismissal. A failure to provide this information, or to present it in a way which is unclear, may well undermine the prospects of success going forward.


2. To provide clarity in terms of identifying what the issues are and how best to respond in the circumstances


Obtaining professional advice regarding the preparation of the ET3, is likely to provide the Respondent with clarity in terms of understanding any relevant points in the ET1 and articulating any relevant defences. This will mean that the documentation is drafted in such a way so as to ensure the narrative is focused, relevant and clear.

 Professional advice can also help to navigate situations where the ET1 is unclear, and what action should be taken in such circumstances.


3. To highlight weaknesses in the Claimant’s case


The ET3 (and grounds of resistance) set out the Respondent’s position and an aspect of that is to point out weaknesses in a Claimant’s case. For example, the Claimant may have an insufficient length of service to bring an unfair dismissal claim. Similarly, all (or part) of the claim may be presented out of time. By highlighting this within the ET3 (or grounds of resistance), the Tribunal will be alerted to the issues and can then direct the parties on next steps.


4. A focused ET3 (and grounds of resistance) will help with other stages of the Employment Tribunal process


An effective ET3 (and grounds of resistance) will help with other stages of the process. For example, a later stage in proceedings will involve the disclosure of relevant material. This task is likely to be made easier by having a strong sense of what that material will be at an early stage.


5. Gaining professional advice at an early stage may well reduce costs overall


If an ET3 is unclear the Tribunal, or the other side may seek clarification. Similarly, if errors have been made, there may be a need to request amendments to the documentation that has been provided.

Conversely, an effective ET3 (and grounds of resistance) reduces or removes the need to provide additional information, as everything is presented correctly from the outset. This in turn reduces time and costs.

In addition, as said above, it may be possible to have the claim, or elements of it, struck out because, for example, it was not presented in time.

Plotkin & Chandler works exclusively in the areas of HR and employment law.

We have expertise in advising on all stages of defending an Employment Tribunal claim. Whether you need advice regarding engaging with early conciliation, you require assistance to draft documentation to submit to the Employment Tribunal (such as the ET3), or you are seeking representation at an Employment Tribunal, we can help.

To discuss your requirements, and the ways in which we can help, call us on 020 3923 8616 or email us at info@plotkinandchandler.com








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