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Letter before Claim

Types of written communication in a work dispute

There are three types of formal written communication that you engage in where you have a formal dispute with your employer.

The letter before claim sets out the legal and factual basis of your claim. It tells your employer to settle the matter or else you will proceed to the employment tribunal or court. Remember that before you can go to the employment tribunal you would need to use the free ACAS Early Conciliation Service. In addition to the letter before claim, you can write a separate “without prejudice” letter to your employer setting out your proposals for settlement. The ACAS Early Conciliation service can help you with negotiating a settlement.


How to write your letter before claim

Get a template letter to help you write your claim


Heads up!

  • Even though settlement discussions and negotiations will be bound by the without prejudice rule, any subsequent settlement agreement itself is not bound by the rule, and any documents or references to the subject matter of the negotiations that are mentioned in the document itself can be put before an Employment Tribunal or Court as evidence. [see BGC Brokers v Tradition (UK)]
  • During negotiations, if you want to use a document or record and not have it bound by the without prejudice rule, mark that document as “OPEN CORRESPONDENCE”.
  • Be smart and summarise the details of any relevant telephone or ad-hoc conversations, and send it to the person, confirming that you had the conversation, and mark it “without prejudice” or “open correspondence” as needed.
  • Remember that tagging any correspondence as without prejudice gives it specific legal protection, and you will not be able to use it any subsequent legal proceedings. If you are not yet in dispute and are just concerned about other people seeing it, mark it as “PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL” rather than without prejudice.
  • If your complaint is about discrimination you should consider using the ACAS Questions Procedure as well.
  • Don’t forget your time limits for making an employment tribunal claim. Protect your position by proceeding with your claim if the time limit is approaching and you have not yet settled.

Updated: 01/03/2020

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