Employment Law Speed Read – 26/02/18
26th February, 2018
This week we look at a case where the Employment Appeal Tribunal found that the Employment Tribunal had made an error when permitting Claimants relief from an Unless Order.
OH Parsons LLP v Mr Bate & Others, Amey Services Ltd & Mr Johnson & Others
In OH Parsons LLP v Mr Bate & Others, Amey Services Ltd & Mr Johnson & Others the Employment Appeal Tribunal found that the Employment Tribunal had made an error when permitting Claimants relief from an Unless Order.
The case consisted of 25 Claimants who had brought claims for holiday pay. The Claimants were ordered by the Employment Tribunal to provide further information about their claims. The Claimants failed to comply, and the Respondent’s solicitors made an application for an Unless Order.
Consequently, the Employment Judge granted the Respondent’s application and granted the Unless Order. The Order stipulated that the Claimants had to provide information about any contractual terms they sought to rely on, details about a collective agreement and an explanation of the basis of their claims under the Employment Rights Act 1996. The Unless Order was clear that any Claimant who failed to provide such information would have their claim struck out.
The Claimants failed to comply with the Order and on 28 January 2016, the Employment Judge decided that the Claimant’s claims had been struck out. The Employment Judge declared that the proceedings were at an end, subject to the Claimants bringing an application for relief from the Unless Order.
Some of the Claimants subsequently provided the requested information in the Unless Order (it was not determined whether it was sufficient to meet the order) and requested relief so that their claims could be reinstated.
The Employment Judge considered their application at a Preliminary Hearing and reinstated all of the claims but awarded £26,000 in wasted costs against OH Parsons who represented the Claimants.
In a judgment handed down last week, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) held that it was an error to grant relief to all of the Claimants when 10 of the Claimants had not at any point tried to comply with the Order. The EAT held that those 10 claims were dismissed.
Further, the EAT found that it was an error to grant relief to the remaining Claimants without having ascertained whether the information provided constituted material compliance with the Unless Order. This was remitted to a new Employment Tribunal to consider and the wasted costs order of £26,000 was upheld.
The case is a useful reminder to both Claimants and Respondents that they must comply with the Tribunal’s directions. It is a warning that if parties ignore Unless Orders, their claim will usually be struck out, or their defence dismissed, unless they can show that they have a good reason why relief from sanctions should be granted. It is also a reminder to ensure that all documents and evidence are gathered at an early stage of proceedings, so that parties do not find themselves being subjected to similar orders.
In addition, the case also confirms that in multiple-litigant claims, each Claimant should be considered individually.
If you have any questions on the above and how it will affect you, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of our employment team.
Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.
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