In the UK, most employment law is categorised as 'civil law' or 'private law', meaning that it’s enforced as a result of one party (the claimant) suing another (the respondent) either for compensation or some other remedy in a civil court. The claimant is normally an employee or worker, a former employee or worker, or an unsuccessful job applicant. The claimant uses the court and employment tribunal system to allege that the respondent (their current or former employer) has caused them some kind of detriment and has done so in contravention of the law.

This factsheet for CIPD members explains the key principles according to which the civil court system operates when handling employment cases.

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This factsheet was last updated by Stephen Taylor: Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management (HRM), University of Exeter Business School and former Chief Examiner for the CIPD

Stephen is a frequent speaker at HR conferences and Acas events for employers, and has regularly represented parties in employment tribunals. He also undertakes HR consultancy, tutoring and training work, and previously worked in a variety of HR management roles in the hotel industry and in the NHS.

Disclaimer 

Please note: While every care has been taken in compiling this content, CIPD cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. These notes are not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice. 

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