|Bone v Fabcon Projects Ltd Employment Appeal Tribunal - (7 July 2006)|
|Written by Veitch Penny LLP|
Bone v Fabcon Projects Ltd
(1) Practice and Procedure
Mr Bone resigned from his employment on 19 February 2005. On 18 May 2005, his solicitors presented a claim to the Employment Tribunal of constructive unfair dismissal. On the same day it was received by the Tribunal it was processed and a letter was written to Mr Bone’s solicitor confirming that a copy of the claim had been sent to the employer and to ACAS. A conversation subsequently took place between ACAS and the employer’s managing director, as a result of which the director telephoned the employee. The employee later alleged that this conversation confirmed that the employer had received the claim papers. The employer subsequently received another telephone call from ACAS and it was this call which the employer later alleged had alerted him to the fact that a response should have been filed. On 17 June 2005, the employer wrote to the Tribunal advising that they had not received the claim documentation. The Tribunal responded on 23 June and sent further copies of the claim form. The employer then submitted their response on 19 July 2005.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) allowed the appeal. It reviewed the construction of the Rules of Procedure. It was confirmed that the time limit to present a response by an employer ran from the sending of the claim form rather than receipt. There was no power in the Rules for the Tribunal to re-serve the claim form. On this basis, the original Tribunal had been incorrect and the Tribunal should have concluded that the employer had not presented a response within the time limit. It would then be up to the employer to apply for a review of the decision.
Prior to the change to the Rules of Procedure, the employer had to file their response within 21 days of receipt of the claim. The emphasis has now changed and it makes it more important than ever that employers are aware of the time limits which apply in tribunal cases and act promptly.