Tribunal Award a hollow victory?
Many claimants who have gone through the financial and emotional stress of bringing a claim in an Employment Tribunal are finding that, despite winning their case, they do not receive the compensation they are due.
The Citizens’ Advice Bureau has produced a report which states that as many 1 in 10 Tribunal Awards are never paid.
What can you do if your Employer or Ex-employer refuses to pay you compensation?
Because Employment Tribunals have no power to enforce their awards, enforcement action must be taken through the courts.
Steps to enforcing a Tribunal Award:
- Before taking any formal action, you should first write to your employer pointing out that under the terms of the Tribunal’s Judgment, they are obliged to pay you £x amount. You can download a draft standard letter here which you may amend and use to send to your employer/ex-employer
- If having completed step one, but your employer still refuses to pay, you should then consider taking formal action
- In order to enforce a Tribunal Award, you first need to register it at the County Court. To do this you need to:
- Complete Court Form number N322a. (You can obtain a copy of the form from your local County Court or you can download a copy from the Courts Service website at the following link: http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/HMCSCourtFinder/GetForm.do?court_forms_id=552
- When completing the form you will need to attach a copy of the Employment Tribunal Judgment which records the amount that is due to be paid to you
- You will be required to enter an amount in respect of the interest you are claiming on your award. The Employment Tribunal will have provided you with details of how to calculate interest when they sent you a copy of the Judgment
- You will be required to pay the Court a fee, but this cost can be detailed on the N322a form so that you can reclaim the cost from your employer/ex-employer later on. If you are in receipt of State Benefits you may not be required to pay the fee. You can check whether you are required to pay the fee by contacting your local County Court and explaining your circumstances to them
- You must send the completed form and fee to the Court in the area that your employer operates their business. You can find the relevant Court by undertaking a post code search using the Court Service’s Court Finder at the following link http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/HMCSCourtFinder/. If the search results suggest more than one relevant Court, you should telephone one of the Courts identified and check which Court you should send the form to
- Once you have sent your form to the Court, the Court will process your application. Provided your employer/ex-employer does not dispute the application, the Court will write to you confirming that you have obtained a County Court Judgment (“CCJ”) against your employer/ex-employer
- CCJ’s may affect your employer/ex-employer’s credit rating, so obtaining the CCJ may be enough to make them pay up. If your employer/ex-employer does not pay you the sum claimed within 4 weeks of the date of the CCJ, the fact that they had a CCJ registered against them will, in most cases, remain on record for a period of 6 years
- A copy of the CCJ will be sent by the Court to the employer/ex-employer. If you do not receive payment following the CCJ, you will then need to consider taking enforcement action. There are various steps you can take to enforce a CCJ, these include asking the Court for:
- A warrant of execution (NB. If you are seeking to recover more than £5000, you would need to obtain a warrant of execution from the High Court rather than the County Court).
(a) A third party debt order
(b) A charging order
(c) A winding up order
- Seeking to take any of the above steps can be complicated and costly. From a practical point of view, you should consider whether taking further enforcement action is likely to result in you being paid the sum due to you. If your employer/ex-employer owes other people money and does not own any goods or assets (eg their business premises), then there may be little chance of you recovering what you are owed. In that case, you need to consider whether you could be wasting your money in pursuing a debt that is unlikely to be paid. Before taking steps to enforce your judgment by any of the means set out above, you should seek detailed advice from a solicitor
- In the event that your employer/ex-employer has become insolvent (ie the company is subject to a Winding Up or Administration Order), you may be able to make a claim for compensation from the National Insurance Fund. Claims for unpaid wages, basic awards, redundancy payments and a number of other claims can be paid out of the Fund upon receipt of a completed RP1 Form. You can contact the Insolvency Service who will provide you with further information about how to claim. The Insolvency Service helpline telephone number is 0845 602 9848