The Court of Appeal has upheld a tribunal’s decision that it was not just and equitable to extend time limits by three days where the ex-employee claimed that he had misunderstood the early conciliation rules.
Mr Adedeji was employed by the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust as a consultant surgeon. After a long capability and conduct procedure, he resigned. He brought constructive dismissal and race discrimination claims. The claims were brought three days outside the tribunal time limits.
Mr Adedeji had withdrawn from ACAS early conciliation and been provided with an early conciliation certificate. He said that he had believed, mistakenly, that the time limits could be extended if he contacted ACAS again. However, he had twice received legal advice that this was incorrect as well as advice about the date by which he had to submit his claim. The tribunal held that his claims were out of time and it declined to extend the time limits.
He appealed to the Court of Appeal which dismissed his appeal. The ACAS early conciliation certificate was valid, and so the only way that the time limits could have been extended would have been for Mr Adedeji to have persuaded the tribunal that there was a reason why the extension would be just and equitable. He had not managed to do so.
This case shows a strict approach to time limits (which will be welcome to employers).