What Is ACAS And What Do They Do?

Short for Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, ACAS is an independent, publicly-funded organisation aimed at improving employment relations.

The organisation, which also offers training and advice on employment-related issues, serves as an alternative, informal, cost-efficient, fast, and confidential employment tribunal. The organisation is completely voluntary and all of its proceedings are confidential and free.

Dispute Resolution

There are three ways ACAS helps to solve disputes. These are:

– Mediation
– Conciliation
– Arbitration


ACAS’s aim when it comes to conciliation is to help both parties reach a mutually-acceptable agreement. Before an aggrieved party can present their case against their employer to an employment tribunal for something like unfair dismissal, they are required to notify ACAS of their plans to lodge the claim.

ACAS then offers both parties the opportunity to use conciliation to try and resolve things without having to go to a tribunal. During conciliation, ACAS will:

• Take the time to establish the issues being disputed
• Allow both the aggrieved party and the accused to evaluate their positions
• Meet both parties separately in private to discuss matters
• Set up a meeting with both parties to deliberate the issues at hand
• Try and rebuild relations between the two parties
Any of the settlements reached through ACAS are legally binding.


Arbitration is different from conciliation in that the parties both agree to allow a third party to decide the outcome of a dispute beforehand and make awards where necessary. Unlike the court system and tribunals, ACAS avoids documentary processes, pleadings and witnesses.

Instead, the organisation tries to be more flexible and informal. With ACAS, there aren’t any strict rules when it comes to evidence. Rather than rely on legalistic procedures and legal precedent, ACAS tends to take into account good conduct and fairness.

ACAS’s Role

Its decisions are final and once awards are made, they are almost impossible to challenge. The role of ACAS during arbitration is to:

• Appoint an arbitrator(s) to decide the result of a complaint
• Provide administrative assistance to participants
• Examine error awards referred to arbitrators


Mediation isn’t that different from arbitration – the only difference between the two is that no awards are made in mediation. Under mediation, ACAS mediators make recommendations to both parties and take on an active role in proceedings, assisting participants to reach resolutions.

In mediation, parties can choose to take the suggestions offered by the mediator or not. The mediator’s role during mediation is to identify the issues at hand, offer ideas that could help improve the situation and to guide both parties through the process. When guiding parties, ACAS mediators normally:

• Speak to both parties separately to establish the problem
• Help parties think about their decision and the result they want
• Encourage both parties to view things from the other party’s perspective
• Make recommendations on how to improve the situation

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service’s day-to-day operations are managed by a Chief Executive and a board consisting of the organisation’s regional and national directors.

If you require further employment law guidance then please reach out to our lawyers here at DPH Legal for a free consultation.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as formal legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article. Specific legal advice should be sort tailored to the individual circumstances in all cases.

For any information relating to our services please give us a call and we will be very happy to help.

For any information relating to our services please give us a call and we will be very happy to help.

We can be contacted 24 hours a day.

Our Head Office address is:

Davidson House
Forbury Square,
Reading, Berkshire,
0118 914 5622

Bristol Tel: 0117 321 7700
High Wycombe Tel: 01494 611236
Oxford Tel: 01865 565325
Swindon Tel: 01793 467124
Kingston Tel: 02080 176207
Richmond Tel: 01748 883585
Chelsea Tel: 02080 176205
Guildford Tel: 01483 958228
Mayfair Tel: 02080 176208
Basingstoke Tel: 01256 675124
Harrow Tel: 02080 176206
Slough Tel: 0175 3911813
Watford Tel: 01923 923161
Twickenham Tel: 02080 176209
Fax:  0118 900 1656

Contacting DPH Legal by email

Have you found an inaccuracy in our content?

Have trouble using our website? webmaster@dphlegal.com

Interested in joining our team? recruitment@dphlegal.com

Have a suggestion on how we can be even better? feedback@dphlegal.com

Have a general enquiry?  info@dphlegal.com or you can use our contact form.

    We can be contacted 24 hours a day.
    Our Reading Head Office address is:

    Davidson House
    Forbury Square
    RG1 3EU
    0118 914 5622
    07850 952245