Can a tribunal reject my case without a full hearing?

Yes in some circumstances. Sometimes, the tribunal will identify one issue that, if they resolved it, could end the case once and for all, without the cost and time of a full hearing (e.g. 'were you an employee?', in a claim for unfair dismissal, or 'were you disabled?', in a claim for disability discrimination). If the tribunal decides that you are not an employee, or that you are not disabled, your claim has to fail, without any need to examine any of the other matters that make up your claim.

Sometimes a tribunal will look at the ET1 and the ET3 Response Form (often at the request of the employer) and decide, after listening to argument from you, that your claim (or just one part of your claim) is so obviously weak that it has no 'reasonable prospects of success'. For example, you may have misunderstood a legal rule that blows a clear hole in your case and means that your case is doomed to failure. 

Tribunals should not strike out a claim on this basis without a proper trial unless it is obviously hopeless and doomed to fail. Instead they should check with you precisely what sort of claim you are trying to make in your ET1, so that everyone knows exactly what the case is about. 
Striking out all or part of your claim without a proper hearing on the basis that it is doomed to fail where there is still a relevant factual dispute to decide is likely to be fundamentally unfair.

However, if your case is very weak, the tribunal may order to pay a deposit of up to £1,000, which you will forfeit if you lose the case. 

If a tribunal has doubts as to whether your claim has good prospects of success, you may be ordered to pay a deposit of up to £1,000, which you will forfeit if you lose the case.

If you should think very hard about whether you should continue with your case – and take legal advice immediately. If you lose, not only will you forfeit your deposit but you also run a high risk of being ordered to pay some or all of your employer’s legal costs, on the basis that you are continuing with your case unreasonably. These can be very considerable sums.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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