Sexual Harassment Claims | Civil Court vs Employment Tribunal

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Hywel Thomas Profile Picture
Hywel Thomas

Senior Associate Solicitor, Abuse

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Sometimes, cases can be solved in a few different ways, based on the circumstances, as we will see in this example.

In these situations, it's a good idea to consult a legal professional so you can fully understand the best way of proceeding with this. There are many other factors which can help us decide which type of case - whether it's an Employment Tribunal or Civil Court - works best for your situation. 

Our legal team approaches every case with care and sensitivity. Our discussions are a safe and confidential space for our clients, and we always offer unbiased and judgement-free advice. Whatever questions and worries you may have, we're here to answer them honestly. We specialise in sexual harassment cases like the example below, and we can advise our clients as to whether an Employment Tribunal or Civil Court Case. 

The publicised sexual harassment and victimisation claim against former MP, Mike Hill, may pose the question of why such a case would be brought at an Employment Tribunal as opposed to a civil court. So what are the differences between the two?

The case referred to is that of the Employment Tribunal decision in the case of Ms A v Mr M Hill. The Employment Tribunal found that Mr Hill engaged in sexual harassment and victimisation of Ms A over a period of several months, and that Ms A’s ultimate dismissal was contrary to the Equality Act 2010. Ms A was awarded substantial compensation, following a claim that first started almost three years ago.

As a case of workplace sexual harassment and victimisation, the claim was brought through the Employment Tribunal. Alternatively, it may be possible to bring a claim for compensation though the civil courts. 

Such claims work differently to Employment Tribunal claims, and it's important to know the difference between the two so you can understand which is best to proceed with in your particular situation. 

In the case of an Employment Tribunal, there are strict time limits for making sexual harassment and victimisation claims. This will usually be three months less one day from the act of sexual harassment or victimisation, or the last in a series of acts which are linked.

You will also need to complete Early Conciliation with ACAS before starting your claim with the aim of reaching an agreement without the need to go to an Employment Tribunal. Time limits will be paused during Early Conciliation, so you don’t need to worry about this process affecting your claim.

For more information on the above case and bringing a sexual harassment and victimisation at work claim.

With civil claims, if you have been assaulted by an individual then a claim can be brought against them directly through the civil courts. If the individual assaulted you during the course of their employment, then it is possible to bring a claim against their employer.

In order to bring such a claim we would need to show that you sustained physical, psychological or psychiatric harm as a result of the assault.

In the cases of people developing mental health problems due to sexual harassment, for example, a civil claim would be the way to go, as there would be evidence of psychological or psychiatric harm having been done. This evidence can often be from a therapist or mental health professional, one who has worked with or has assessed you.

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What is the Time Limit for Bringing a Civil Claim?

Time limits for civil claims differ to those that apply to Employment Tribunal claims. If you wish to bring a civil claims court proceedings need to be issued within three years of an incident happening.

It is advisable to speak to a solicitor as soon as possible as a considerable amount of work will need to be completed before a claim may be ready for proceedings to be issued and in many cases a claim may settle prior to this deadline.

In many cases, particularly where they have been sexually assaulted, people may not feel ready to talk about harassment that happened to them until many years have passed. Should that be the case you may still be in a position to pursue a claim after the three-year limitation deadline.

If you would like to find out more about bringing a claim and speak to a harassment Solicitor in strict confidence, please contact us today.

Our team is well-equipped to deal with harassment cases. We are aware of the difficulty around speaking up, and the bravery it can take people to come out about having experienced sexual harassment. Whether it's due to feeling shame around being a victim, or if it's just because of the horrible and traumatising memories of the harassment, or both combined - which is often the case - you might feel really daunted about getting legal closure. 

But at Simpson Miller, we're here to guide you through the whole process, to try and alleviate some of your worries and concerns. 

In addition, we're also able to point you in the right direction when it comes to getting external support. Whether it's a specialised support group for harassment victims, or a therapist who works mainly with victims, or a charity or organisation dealing with sexual harassment, we have the resources to help you find whatever emotional and psychological help and support you may need. 

We're also committed to making legal proceedings as accessible and transparent as possible, especially in potentially stressful and traumatising cases like these. By talking you through exactly what is happening and what the next steps are, we can help take some of the stress off your shoulders. 

We're here to fight your corner at every turn, so that you can go on with living your life with as little worry as possible. We'll work hard with you to help you get the results you deserve, based on your case.

In these situations, we can help you hopefully get some form of closure, and often compensation, for the effect this harassment has had on your life and your career. 

Our aim is to make sure our clients can get on with their lives once the result is reached. However we get to that stage, it's important that we consider the damage the harassment has caused victims, so we are able to get the right result. And once this is reached, we need to make sure that you can have the support you need to start to heal. 

But, with us behind you, you can make steps to get through result you need legally, so you can begin to move on with your life.

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Hywel Thomas Profile Picture

Hywel Thomas

Senior Associate Solicitor, Abuse

Areas of Expertise:
Abuse Claims

With a background in Personal Injury Claims and Criminal Injury Compensation Claims, Hywel started specialising in Abuse Claims in 2001. Over the years, he has seen the area of abuse law evolve, presenting new challenges and learning opportunities. He has tackled cases against diverse groups, from local authorities to private schools, charities, medical organisations, and even individuals.

His passion for understanding psychological injuries led him to this area of Law.  Hywel's work extends beyond seeking financial compensation for his clients; he focuses on helping victims and survivors access support, making a real difference in their healing process. He values each client's unique motivations, ensuring they achieve what they desire through the legal process.


BBC News. (2023, December 14). Mike Hill to stand down as MP after legal action over sexual harassment allegations.

The Guardian. (2023, June 3). Ms A: Woman who accused MP Mike Hill of sexual harassment calls for change to Labour complaints process.

Express. (2023, December 01). Disgraced former Labour MP Mike Hill faces court over unpaid damages for sexual assault.

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