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Early Conciliation is the name given to the opportunity to resolve a dispute with your previous (or current) employer by using ACAS (the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service).

If you have been dismissed, discriminated against or feel that you have been forced to resign then you may be entitled to bring a claim at the Employment Tribunal.

However, before you do this you have to go through the ‘Early Conciliation’ scheme with ACAS, which involves ACAS calling you to get agreement to contact your employer. If you either do not agree, it’s impossible for them to make contact with your employer, or your employer doesn’t wish to take part in conciliation, ACAS will close the case and issue a conciliation certificate. Only at this point are you able to lodge your claim with the tribunal. A limited number of exemptions apply to the need for early conciliation, which gives you and your employer the opportunity to try and resolve the situation at this early stage saving the need to go to the Employment Tribunal.

ACAS cannot advise you on whether to accept or make any proposals for resolution, cannot take sides, represent either you or the employer or help prepare a case for tribunal. Neither can they take a view on the merits of a claim or advise if a claim should be made.

You can represent yourself in Early Conciliation but you must remember there are strict time limits in bringing claims and entering Early Conciliation. If you are unsuccessful in resolving your dispute through Early Conciliation then there are also strict time limits to follow in order to take your claim to tribunal.

You must make contact with ACAS within the normal time limit for bringing a claim, (three months for routine unfair dismissal cases). They will try to call you by the end of the following working day to get more details about the claim and to go through the early conciliation process with you. After this initial call, you will then be contacted by an ACAS conciliator who will want to know if you agree to them going to your employer to try to sort things out.

It is important to present your situation properly during Early Conciliation to give you the best possible outcome to either solve your situation or obtain the right compensation you are entitled to.

If you’d like help with Early Conciliation to ensure that either your case isn’t undervalued, to obtain the compensation that’s right and correct, or to ensure that you are getting your time limits correct, Ashley Hunt, Vaishali Thakerar or Carrie-Ann Randall at Lawson-West on 0116 212 1000. We offer a number of funding options including No-Win No-Fee funding and can help you negotiate the best outcome.