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Unfair Dismissal and Time Limits

13th October, 2016

The recent case of The Governing Body of Sheredes School v Mr B Davies UKEAT/0196/16/JOJ raised the question; does intervention by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) make it not reasonably practicable to present a claim in time?

On the facts of Sheredes, it was held it does not.

In this case, the claimant instructed solicitors in relation to an unfair dismissal claim. On 8 October 2015 the instructed solicitors advised him to seek new representation. They failed however, to advise him that he needed to present his claim by 25 October 2015 or his time limit for doing so would expire.

The claimant began seeking new representatives to take on his case.

On 14 October 2015, the SRA intervened at the previously instructed solicitors firm, prevented it from contacting any clients and took possession of its papers. The claimant was unaware of this.

On 5 November 2015, the claimant saw another solicitor who advised him that he was out of time for bringing a claim for unfair dismissal. As a result, the claimant presented his claim without legal assistance on 10 November 2015.

At first instance, the Tribunal extended the time limit for bringing a claim for unfair dismissal. They did so on the basis that the SRA intervention was a ‘special reason’ which made it not reasonably practicable to present the claim in time.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has overturned this decision holding that the claim was out of time because failure to present it in time arose from the fault of the instructed solicitors by failing to advise the claimant of the time limit when they told him to seek new representation on 8 October 2015. If the claimant had been advised of the time limit then he would have presented his claim in time regardless of the intervention.

When acting for employers we always review the time limits in cases as usually, anything out of time, even by a minute, is time barred. It is a good way to start to defend a claim, to resists claims when a time limit has lapsed.

If you have any queries about time limits or wish to bring or defend a claim for unfair dismissal then contact our Employment Department immediately.

Paul Bennett
Partner

Employment Law and Professional Practices
Email: [email protected]
Direct Dial: 01743 453685

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