Congratulations! You have made it through January, the worst month of the year. As February rolls round, the days are getting longer, post-Christmas blues are lifting and fun resumes as most people give up their resolutions and get back on the booze, chocolate and carbs!

In last week’s case law update we looked at negligence and the risk employers face when interfering with an ex-employee’s iTunes account. This week, it is our monthly newsletter which will round up the employment law news of the year so far and highlight a couple of things to look out for in 2019. For those keen to recap December’s update, it had features on British Cycling, Raheem Sterling and a round-up of 2018.

Tribunal delays are something we have spoken about frequently in the past 12 months. The latest round of ET statistics suggest that the average ET claim takes 207 days, or 7 months to those who don’t like to do maths on Friday mornings (or at all).

In this firm’s experience that is actually quite a flattering figure as some more complex claims regularly take 9-12 months and it is likely the 7 month figure includes nominal wages claims in the average.

These delays often result in extra costs for employers particularly if barristers are being used at the Hearing. However, these same delays can be used as a tactical advantage to settle quickly and in a cost-efficient manner.

When claims are accepted the hearing date is usually sent to both parties together with directions for the case, including when the employer has to file a defence. If this hearing date is far away – we are already seeing hearing dates for October 2019 for claims issued in November 2018 – it might make the Claimant keen to settle early.

An early offer to avoid the cost of preparing a defence is advantageous to both parties; the employer saves legal costs and the employee receives money now rather than potential compensation in 7-12 months. This settlement, even if the claim is strong, will often be far less then the amount recoverable at hearing.

Whilst Christmas has only just passed, it can be especially advantageous for claims issued around Christmas as most Claimants would prefer an immediate pre-Christmas cash boost than some money in August the following year.