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Employment Tribunals: Legal Advice

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Employment and Learning – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:15 pm on 19th January 2016.

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Photo of Stephen Farry Stephen Farry Alliance 2:15 pm, 19th January 2016

My Department funds the Law Centre Northern Ireland to provide access to legal advice and representation on employment matters. The project provides specialist professional advice and advocacy through to the industrial tribunal process free of charge to those who otherwise would find it difficult to secure access to justice. That support is provided across Northern Ireland and is focused on the most vulnerable employees.

Employment tribunals seek to ensure at all times that the principles of the justice system are adhered to in all cases that come before them. Allowances are made for inexperienced individuals who represent themselves. This is done to ensure that the tribunals' overriding objective, namely that parties are on an equal footing, is preserved.

The Department also funds the Labour Relations Agency to offer conciliation before or during tribunal proceedings.

While the process does not include directive advice, it can provide parties with the information and assistance that they need to help them to resolve outstanding issues. The Employment Bill will extend that process so that most people facing a tribunal claim will have the offer of early conciliation before lodging a tribunal claim.