Employment Tribunal - ET1
Completion of the ET1 form is not particularly difficult, but care must be taken. Details of the claim can be set out in a separate document.
It is very important to note that once ET proceedings have been issued by lodging an ET1 form, you will effectively lose control of the case. As soon as the claim is issued, the ET judge’s powers, which are extensive, come into play.
Don’t expect communication with the tribunal to run smoothly. It is crucially important not to run deadlines to the wire. There may be problems with IT hardware or software.
Because of restrictions on the size of ET electronic mailboxes, large document files may fail to be properly delivered. This can lead to a claim being struck out by the tribunal because of documents not being delivered on time.
Documents can be sent to the ET electronically. You will normally receive a standard acknowledgment response. This does not always happen. You may then need to deliver hard copy of the documents by hand to ensure that they have been received. Be prepared to wait in line at the enquiry desk. Courts and tribunals are short-staffed. This is not taken into account by ET judges when deadlines have been missed.
Claim not able to be sensibly responded to
Trustees of the William Jones’s Schools Foundation v Parry (2018). P lodged a claim of unfair dismissal and arrears of wages against T. The claim form stated ‘Please see attached’ in relation to the details of the claim. P’s solicitors attached details of a different case. The ET accepted the claim. T asked the ET to reject the claim as being in a form which could not sensibly be responded to. The ET ruled that an application for reconsideration was only available to a claimant. T appealed to the EAT.The EAT dismissed the appeal. It stated that although the ET had been wrong to conclude that the claim could sensibly be responded to, the claims were indisputably claims which the ET had jurisdiction to consider. The ET’s error was immaterial and the reconsideration appeal was rendered academic.
J v K and another (2019). Five minutes before the deadline for appealing against a decision of an employment tribunal, J sent an email to the EAT with an attachment containing the relevant documents. The communication failed because the attachment was beyond the capacity of the server. J re-sent the documents in a number of smaller files which were received after the deadline. He was refused an extension of time and appealed, stating that he suffered from serious mental ill-health which affected his ability to communicate. He appealed to the EAT.
The appeal was allowed.
A guide on the government website stated that the size of attachments should not exceed 10 MB. Apart from that guide, an ordinary layman would reasonably expect that the EAT’s server would be able to accept all the necessary documents as an attachment. The guide was only available if the appellant knew of its existence.
Unless and until the sever capacity was increased, consideration should be given to drawing attention to the problems rather more emphatically than was done at present.
Where mental ill-health had contributed to a would-be applicant failing to lodge an appeal in time, that would always be an important consideration in deciding whether an extension should be granted.