11 Sep 2013, 15:41 by Priya Bakshi
Labels: appeal, barrister, employment-law, employment-tribunal, lawyer, unfair-dismissal
The Employment Appeal Tribunal in the case of Elliott v The Joseph Whitworth Centre Ltd.  UKEAT 0030_13_1507 held that the claim was permissibly struck out by the Employment Judge because a fair hearing was impossible. A two year delay in dealing with the Claimant's claim form, by the Tribunal Service in not serving the ET1 and the failure of the Claimant's representatives to chase up the case, was "inordinate and inexcusable".
Mr Elliot presented his claim for unfair dismissal on 30 April 2010. The Tribunal Service then failed to take action in respect of the claim form due to administrative difficulties. However the Claimant's representatives also did nothing to chase the matter up. It was only in February 2012 that the Claimant's representatives finally made enquiries, and the claim form was then served on the Respondent.
As a result, the Respondent applied to have the matter struck out under rule 18(7)(f) on the ground that it was no longer possible to have a fair hearing in these proceedings. They argued that memories would have faded and so would be prejudiced if the case were to be heard.
The Employment Judge considered the claim form and the submissions made by the parties. No evidence was given at the hearing. The Tribunal agreed with the Respondent and struck out the claim.
Mr Elliot appealed on the basis that as the Employment Judge had not heard evidence, it could not be concluded that memories had faded.
The EAT dismissed the appeal. Whether it was possible to have a fair hearing was a question of fact. Mr Elliot had kept notes of meetings however as the Respondent had not, or notes were no longer available, much depended on the memory of the relevant officers. Fading memory is a reason why there cannot be a fair trial. The EAT held that the relevant materials had been considered and agreed that the delay was inordinate
and inexcusable. The decision concerning where the prejudice lay was also
permissible. The practical consequence of this is that Mr Elliot's remedy
likely lay elsewhere.