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Tribunal Time Limits

2nd December, 2013

Does the Tribunal ever have jurisdiction to hear a claim brought outside of the time limit?

This question was raised in the recent case of Norbert Dentressangle Logistics Limited v Mr Graham Hutton UKEATS/0011/13/BI.

A claim to the tribunal is subject to a three month time limit, which, in a case of unfair dismissal, begins to run from the effective date of termination.

In this case, the Claimant stated that he was unable to bring the claim within the time frame due to a lack of mental capacity which resulted in him having “significant difficulty” and unable to function normally, as evidenced to the Tribunal through a graphic description.

The first question for the Tribunal was whether it was reasonable for the Claimant to present his claim in the time frame. As the Employment Judge held that it was not (for the reasons given in the Claimant’s graphic description), the second question turned to whether the claim was brought within a reasonable time after expiry of the original time limit. The Claimant said that he submitted the claim as soon as he felt able to do so which the Employment Judge had no reason to doubt the credibility of.

It was therefore concluded in this case that it was reasonable for the Claimant to delay the lodging of his claim beyond the initial period and the Tribunal had jurisdiction to hear the claim.

Although this case highlights that sometimes the Tribunal has jurisdiction to look beyond the initial time limit, it is crucial that time limits are considered when potentially bringing a claim to ensure that you do not run the risk of your claim being struck out.

For further information and advice on time limits and Employment Tribunal claims, please contact Claire Brook on 01244 405575 or send an email to [email protected].

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