Court of Appeal guidance on time limits for lodging appeals in the Employment Appeal Tribunal
These joined cases contain new guidance regarding extensions of time for lodging appeals to the Employment Appeal Tribunal.
In both cases (Bonnie v DWP and Rana v LB Ealing), the Appellants had their claims dismissed in the ET and sought to appeal to the EAT.
Similarly, in both instances the ET sent the judgment/reasons to the Appellants’ previous legal representatives, who had in fact come off the record and ceased acting for them.
This resulted in the Appellants receiving the judgment/reasons some time later than they would have done, thus depriving them of the full 42 day limitation period in which to lodge an appeal with the EAT. Unfortunately an extension to lodge an appeal was refused by the Registrar, and their appeal against that decision was rejected by the EAT.
The Court of Appeal (Underhill LJ, with whom Bean LJ agreed, giving the leading judgment) decided that the EAT had erred in not exercising its discretion to extend time for the appeals.
The Appellants’ primary argument was that time did not start to run for instituting an appeal unless the reasons/judgment had in fact been sent to them – as opposed to being sent in error to someone who was not a party to the proceedings. The majority did not accept this argument.
The majority did, however, find that in such circumstances the strict principles set out in Abdelghafar v UAE  ICR 65 ought not to apply to the question of whether an extension of time should be granted.
Saul and Will argued that, since both Appellants had lodged their appeals within 42 days of the date they were actually sent the judgment/reasons, the EAT ought to have exercised its discretion to extend time in their cases – and allowed their appeals to proceed. The appeals were allowed, and the cases remitted back to the EAT.
N.B. The starting point now is that where the ET has sent the judgment/reasons to the wrong person/address that party should, subject to certain exceptions, get an extension of time so that they have 42 days to lodge their appeal from the date that the reasons/judgment were in fact sent to them.
The judgment is available to read here.
Barristers: Saul Margo | Will Young