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Posted on 15th September 2016

Collaborative Employment Law (‘CEL’)

An introduction to CEL, what it is, what the benefits are and how it works.

Employment and workplace disputes can often be highly charged and emotional because ultimately, people are involved and there is a lot at stake - principles as well as money. There are rarely winners in these disputes.

Collaborative Employment Law (CEL) is a new service offered by a group of employment lawyers who are committed to working together to resolve employment and workplace disputes.

Members of CEL will have undergone internal workplace mediation training and hold an ACAS Certificate of Internal Workplace Mediation or equivalent in order to offer CEL to their clients and participate in CEL.

The purpose of CEL is to:

  1. resolve employment and workplace disputes in a non-confrontational way;
  2. deal with the resolution of employment and workplace disputes in a constructive, pro-active way;
  3. encourage participants to think creatively and constructively to resolve their dispute;
  4. work to achieve a resolution of the employment and workplace dispute; and
  5. ensure a quick and cost effective outcome.

The advantage of CEL is that it aims to avoid an employment or workplace dispute becoming adversarial and possibly spiralling down into deadlock with ensuing litigation. It allows the participants an opportunity to voice their respective concerns and interests.

From the start of the process, both parties can be clear about what they hope to achieve.

For it to work both parties must appoint CEL lawyers who will work with their respective clients to facilitate an open, honest and constructive exploration of ways in which the parties can reach a resolution of their differences.

CEL offers the parties an opportunity, through this facilitated process, to speak directly to each other about the dispute in a non-confrontational way, in a dignified and neutral environment with the specific aim of seeking an early resolution to the dispute.

There is no lengthy or aggressive correspondence or communication between the parties and in most cases, the matter should be resolved after one meeting.

CEL also allows the parties to be more creative and come up with their own solutions, which a court or employment tribunal would never have statutory power to deliver for example to agree for training, outplacement support or coaching to be provided or to receive a face to face apology.

The CEL process is quick, confidential and all discussions and communications will be conducted on a without prejudice basis.

How does the process work?

  1. Both the employer and the employee need to agree to use the CEL process and nominate CEL member lawyers to assist them to facilitate in the process.
  2. The CEL lawyers will arrange a time, date and venue to hold the CEL meeting which, subject to participants’ availability, will be arranged within 14 days from the date the parties elect CEL.
  3. The CEL lawyers, in advance of the CEL meeting, will together have up to an hour long pre fact-finding meeting with each of the parties.
  4. Seven days in advance of the CEL meeting, the CEL lawyers will provide disclosure to one another of any documentation that the parties agree are relevant to the dispute. The intention of the CEL process is to limit the use of and extensive reference to documentation and to promote dialogue.
  5. At the start of the CEL meeting, the participants will provide an opening statement (delivered uninterrupted) setting out their position and the resolution they are seeking to achieve (the Statement) limited to no more than 30 mins each. It is important that the Statement is not produced and delivered in writing in advance of the meeting, so that the parties do not feel intimidated and pull out of the process before the meeting. CEL ensures that there can be no “game playing” in advance of the CEL meeting.
  6. The CEL lawyers will assist the parties to agree how they will conduct the remainder of the CEL meeting.
  7. The participants will have separate rooms that they can adjourn to, where they can discuss each other’s Statements, consider and deliberate on their respective interests and the proposals they wish to put forward. Where possible the parties are encouraged to conduct the meeting in one room.
  8. The participants with the assistance of their CEL lawyers will then enter into facilitated discussions aimed at seeking a resolution to the dispute, by addressing the issues common to both parties and seeking consensus on those issues with a view to reaching agreement on all areas.

Why opt for CEL?

  1. Provides a respectful, confidential and private forum for dispute resolution
  2. Allows parties in dispute to explore and understand their differences, so that they can find a solution
  3. Quicker, less expensive and less emotionally and commercially disruptive for both sides than traditional judicial forums.
  4. Avoids the engagement of a third party mediator that may get in the way of bringing both parties together in a consensus.
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Collaborative Employment Law (‘CEL’)

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Published by

Catherine Daw

Partner

T: 01622 655291

Email Catherine

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