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.
CIPD member content
This content is only available for CIPD members
If you’re already a CIPD member, please sign in to access this content
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.
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.
Access over 1500 customisable contracts, policies, letters, case law, and other HR tools, with CIPD members enjoying a 50% discount.
Discover our practice guidance and recommendations to tackle bullying and harassment in the workplace.
What are the priorities for Northern Ireland as its devolved government makes a full return after two years?
Explore our collection of resources around legal issues surrounding race discrimination, including Q&As and relevant case law
Practical guidance to help you identify and implement good atypical working practices
Learn about defining, measuring and reporting human capital, and how HR can use human capital information to drive performance
Understand how being defined in UK law as an employee, a worker or self-employed affects employment rights and employers’ legal responsibilities
Outlines the main characteristics of strategic and total reward, and looks at designing and implementing a reward strategy across the organisation
This factsheet looks at employee voice, its purposes and use, and the benefits it can bring to an organisation and its workforce. It also covers whistleblowing and creating a speak-up culture