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In Palihakkara v The English Sport Council, the Employment Appeal Tribunal found that a mental health condition is not a suitable reason to extend the time for a delayed appeal.

The facts of the case

The Claimant in this case wished to appeal the decisions made by Employment Judge Brown at a hearing on 14 February 2019. 

The deadline to appeal is 42 days from the date of sending the written reasons. Unfortunately for the Claimant, her appeal was lodged 675 days out of time – and despite the discretion to extend time found in section 37, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) found there was not a suitable reason for doing so.

How was the decision reached?

In coming to this decision, the EAT three main questions:

  • How was the default in issuing the appeal in time to be explained?
  • Did this amount to a good enough explanation?
  • Could the EAT justify the step of granting an extension of time based on these circumstances?

Whilst medical evidence, which was presented to the EAT, did support the Claimant’s statement that she had been impaired by suffering from depression and anxiety across the entire 675 days, the EAT ruled that this did not suitably provide reason for not issuing the appeal in time.

The EAT considered that, in correspondence, the Claimant was able to identify and demonstrate her legal basis and complaints which would form part of the appeal clearly and articulately. As a result of this, it was determined that she should have been able to issue the appeal within the timeframe, meaning that her appeal was ultimately dismissed.

What can be taken away from this case?

Whilst in this case the EAT did rule that they would not extend time, each case will be decided on its own facts, and in some cases, medical reasons would be considered a sufficient justification for missing a deadline to file an appeal, or to lodge a claim in the Employment Tribunal. 

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Helen Watson

Helen Watson

Partner | Head of Employment Law

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Debbie Coyne

Debbie Coyne

Employment Law Senior Associate Solicitor

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