Employment Tribunals have a limited power to extend the three-months’ time limit for bringing unfair dismissal claims where it is “not reasonably practicable” for a claimant to make a claim in time. In the case of El -Kholy v Rentokil Initial Facilities Services (UK) Ltd the Employment Appeal Tribunal reminds us that, where the reason the claimant has not presented a claim within the time limit is an error by a professional adviser, he or she cannot rely on that error as making it not reasonably practicable to observe the time limit. In this particular case, the claimant was dismissed on 4 October, and consulted a solicitor on 15 October to help him appeal against dismissal. That appeal was refused on 6 January – by which time the three months had already run out. Proceedings were started a couple of weeks later, after the case had belatedly been passed to an employment specialist.
The practical lesson to be drawn from this case for professional advisors, is not be tempted to await the outcome of internal processes before lodging an ET1. Cynical employers could (and frequently do) draw another conclusion.
Even if the deadline is missed, that is not necessarily the end of the road from the claimant’s perspective. Missing deadlines is one of the most frequent causes of professional negligence claims against solicitors and other legal advisers. According to research carried out by Lockton Professions missed deadlines account for 46% of claims made against lawyers in litigation matters (including employment claims). At Canter Levin & Berg we have a great deal of experience in dealing with claims concerning all professionals, although we specialise in claims against lawyers. If you have a potential claim, or know someone who might have such a claim, please let me know by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling free on 08000 832 832. You can find out more about professional negligence claims on our website.