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What is Early Conciliation in relation to an Employment Tribunal?

05 May 2021
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What is Early Conciliation in relation to an Employment Tribunal?

Before making a claim to the Employment Tribunal, you must first notify ACAS of your intention of bringing a claim, this is known as early conciliation. Early conciliation is a compulsory first step when making a claim to an Employment Tribunal. When ACAS are instructed to proceed with early conciliation, they will discuss the dispute that has been raised with you (the claimant) and your employer (the respondent)  in order to try to reach a resolution. Normally this is by way of compensation. If both parties are  This provides both parties with the opportunity to try to agree on a settlement sum, without needing to pursue or defend a claim in the Employment Tribunal.


There are many benefits to the early conciliation procedure:

  • It’s free – There are no costs to you by choosing early conciliation.
  • It’s confidential – ACAS have no association with the Employment Tribunal and will not discuss any matters raised with the Tribunal or any third parties (apart from your employer).
  • It can be quicker than pursuing a claim in the Employment TribunalIt’s voluntary – Either party can refuse to discuss the matter further at any given time.
  • You can agree on the outcome if both parties are willing – For example, you may be able to agree on a reference. However, an Employment Tribunal does not have the power to force the employer to provide a reference, even if your claim is successful.
  • Control over information – You (the claimant) have full control over what information ACAS can share with your employer (the respondent). During a tribunal, all relevant information must be disclosed even if it is harmful to the prospects of your case.


The process can last up to 6 weeks. If this time limit expires without a settlement being reached, ACAS will issue an early conciliation certificate. ACAS may issue the certificate for various other reasons including if ACAS are unable to contact the respondent.

If early conciliation is not successful, you would need to submit an ET1 form to the Employment Tribunal if you wished to pursue a claim. Please note that the submission of the ET1 is the start of major litigation. The time limits for submitting an Employment Tribunal claim are strict and if you fail to comply with them it is highly unlikely that you will be able to pursue your claim. The general rule is that you have one month from the date on which you received the early conciliation certificate. The time limits are complicated and depend on your specific circumstances - we recommend that you seek expert advice in respect of your limitation date.

Information on what an ET1 form is and how it is crucial to your claim can be found here

For any more information or advice on early conciliation and settlements, contact our employment team today on 01302 341 414