• Monday, March 18, 2024
'When More Means Less' - Michael Malone

Trinity Chambers' Michael Malone examines the implications of an overly lengthy claim in Employment Tribunal proceedings.

When More Means Less

Sometimes a claim to a court or tribunal is too concise. It fails adequately to describe the acts or omissions which are being complained about and to state the grounds on which they are said to have been wrongful. 

In the Employment Appeal Tribunal case of Rahim v The Big Word and another (2023 EAT 171) there was a very different problem. The claim was anything but concise. It came with a 204 page attachment. Judge Beard in the EAT said that this document was ‘virtually incomprehensible’ in the way it was structured.

There was an initial hearing at which the case was listed for a two day preliminary hearing to try to identify the claims and decide whether all or any of them were out of time. The judge at that hearing was faced with documentation amounting to 935 pages, including a 100 page witness statement from the claimant containing 856 paragraphs. The claimant presented further documents on the second day of the hearing.

The judge identified a number of claims, including disability discrimination and discrimination on grounds of religion or belief. He found that all the claims were out of time. However, the claimant had made an application to amend his claims. This amendment application should have been dealt with at the outset of the hearing, but it was not dealt with at all. This appeared to be because the judge was not aware of it, because of the amount of material before him and because the parties failed to draw it to his attention. Accordingly the claimant’s appeal succeeded and the case was sent back for further consideration.

Judge Beard said that the claim should have been rejected by the tribunal at the start under rule 12. Under this rule a claim must be referred by the staff to an employment judge for possible rejection if it is ‘in a form which cannot sensibly be responded to or is otherwise an abuse of the process’. Judge Beard said that the claimant was ‘not the only claimant before the tribunals. Other claimants and respondents need their cases dealt with. The overriding objective indicates that there should be a fair distribution between claimants and other parties of the tribunal’s resources. This is not a fair use of the tribunal’s resources’.

Incidentally, as Judge Beard pointed out, the claimant was employed as a language interpreter.

Michael Malone is a mediator at Trinity Chambers. He undertakes mediations in employment and civil litigation cases and also workplace mediation. He is CEDR accredited and also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb). For further details, contact Steve Walker by email stevew@trinitychambers.co.uk or call 0191 232 1927.