Thanks to Rad Kohanzad of Serjeants’ Inn Chambers for preparing this case summary
Should an employment tribunal briefly adjourn a hearing of its own motion for a mentally impaired litigant to recover his lucidity and obtain documents which he wanted to rely on?
Yes, in these particular circumstances, held the EAT in U v Butler & Wilson.
The Claimant arrived at the employment tribunal shortly after the decision to strike out his claim had been taken and explained that he was having a psychotic episode, which was also the reason for his breach of the order which led to the strike out. The Claimant explained that he had a bundle of documents being photocopied next door.
The Employment Judge asked the Claimant whether he wanted her to review her decision, which he confirmed that he did. Despite the Employment Judge noting that the Claimant was exhibiting symptoms consistent with his disability and was obviously unwell, she proceeded to review her decision and refused his application.
The EAT found that no Employment Judge acting reasonably could have failed to consider and grant a short adjournment in these circumstances.
As an important aside, the EAT observed that, having informed the Claimant of his right to review her decision, it was incumbent on the Employment Judge to make clear that the application need not be made immediately and could be made within 14 days of the reasons being sent to the parties.