Extension of time limits

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Adedeji v University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust

Most claims in the Employment Tribunal have to be submitted within 3 months. That time limit will usually be automatically extended by the period of ACAS early conciliation. Otherwise  a late discrimination claim will only be accepted if it is “just and equitable”.  In Adedeji v University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, the question as to whether the mistaken belief an automatic time extension applied, meant it was ‘just and equitable’ to accept a late claim.

Claims rejected due to late submission

Dr Adedeji resigned after he had been demoted following an extended investigation. His claims that he had been subject to discrimination were rejected as they were received three months and three days after his resignation. He appealed on the grounds that he believed, despite being given advice to the contrary, the time limit would be automatically extended due to the EC scheme and it was therefore just and equitable to allow an extension of time.

The original decision was upheld

The Court of Appeal upheld the original refusal to extend time. Although Dr Adedeji had said that he believed that he could benefit from an automatic extension of time under the early conciliation rules, he had been explicitly warned about the time limit and that the ACAS Early Conciliation process would not extend time where it had pre-dated the termination of employment. This was advice he had chosen to ignore. 

Key takeaway point

The burden is on the claimant to persuade the Employment Tribunal that it would be “just and equitable” to extend time. The Tribunal will take into account all relevant factors in a case, including the length of, and the reasons for, the delay. Where a claimant had taken legal advice though and had decided not to follow it would clearly weigh heavily against the Tribunal exercising its discretion to extend time.  

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