A recent EAT case may seem a little extreme but in the case of Elliott v The Joseph Whitworth Centre Ltd delay meant he was denied justice at Employment Tribunal. The Claimant was dismissed in February 2010 and presented his complaint for unfair dismissal within the three month time limit through his union representative.
Nothing happened for a couple of years, the Tribunal did receive the claim but it was not sent to the Respondent. It would seem the blame for this lies at the computer system being trialled at that time. Quite unbelievably the Claimant’s union representative did not get round to chasing the claim until February 2012 at which point it had been “in” the system for nearly two years. When the Tribunal realised there was an issue it sent the ET1 to the Respondent who did respond but also made an application that the claim be struck out on the grounds that the long delay had prejudiced the employer in presenting its evidence after this amount of time.
The Judge at first instance granted the application accepting the employer’s arguments as to the problems the delay would cause. The EAT upheld this decision stating that the Judge had exercised her discretion in a way as to try to strike a balance between the prejudices both sides would face in this case depending on her decision. The EAT went on to describe the delay as inordinate and inexcusable. It held that the Claimant would have to seek his remedy outside the tribunal system against the union or the Tribunal, or both, for their neglect or some may argue negligence.
One example of how not to run your Tribunal case, from the very back of your filing cabinet or even behind it!