In the UK there are two legal definitions of insolvency. The first is where an individual or...
Tribunal time limits
Employment Tribunal rules state that claims for unfair dismissal must be brought within three months of the effective date of the employee’s termination date; for example, if an employee was dismissed on 10 February 2012 the claim must have arrived at the Tribunal on or before midnight on 9 May 2012. If the claim form is not presented within that period the claim will be “out of time” and the Tribunal will not hear it.
However, there are exceptions. Extensions can be given where the Tribunal is satisfied that it was not “reasonably practicable” for the claim to be brought within the three month time limit, although the Tribunal must be satisfied that the claim was brought as soon as reasonably possible thereafter. This means that employees who miss the deadline, but present their claim promptly afterwards, might find that their claim is accepted. The employee will need to persuade the Tribunal that they had good reason for not adhering to the three month limit.
A recent case illustrates the point. An employee was informed by her employer that the time limit was six months. This was considered a reasonable explanation by the Tribunal, which heard her claim late. Another example might be where the employee was too ill to lodge the claim in time. Sometimes further information might be discovered about the dismissal after the three month limitation period has expired, such as where an employee has been made redundant and then finds that someone else was employed to do their job shortly afterwards. Again, the Tribunal might look on this favourably and hear the claim.
However, it is highly unlikely that the time limit would be extended where a “skilled adviser” is at fault. So where a solicitor or a qualified legal practitioner fails to submit the claim on time it will almost certainly be rejected. Where an unskilled adviser is at fault the Tribunal may be more lenient.
Nowadays most claim forms are submitted electronically but it is the responsibility of the claimant or adviser to ensure the forms reach their destination. The Tribunal will not look kindly on technology failures and faxes or emails that arrive late will not be considered a reason to extend the time limit. In one case a claimant submitted a claim form by email at 11.44pm on the last day but he used the wrong email address. He realised his mistake and sent it again with the correct address. The delay was costly! The email was registered as received by the Tribunal one minute and 28 seconds after midnight on the following day and the Employment Appeal Tribunal refused to hear his claim. Similarly, a representative submitted an electronic claim form to the Tribunal at one second to midnight on the final day of the time period but it wasn’t received by the Tribunal until eight seconds past midnight. It too was deemed out of time and rejected.
The message here is to ensure that you understand the time limits, send claim forms in good time - preferably several days before the deadline – and confirm receipt.