News and Events

Extending Time For Appeal

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[Thanks to Michael Reed, Employment Legal Officer at the Free Representation Unit, for preparing this case summary]

Is the EAT deadline too harsh? Can a disabled claimant use his disability to excuse a delay? Not in Greg O'Cathail v Transport for London, where the Court of Appeal upheld the EAT's decision to reject a late appeal.

Mr O'Cathail's deadline to appeal was 27th January 2010. He lodged his notice of appeal on the 26th, but didn't include the tribunal's judgment or reasons. These required documents were not provided until 28th January.

Mr O'Cathail claimed the lateness was caused by his depression, anxiety and panic attacks. The EAT found that, although his disability had delayed him starting work on his appeal, the lateness was because he left presenting the appeal until the last moment.

The Court of Appeal emphasised that it would only overturn the EAT's exercise of discretion if it was legally flawed or plainly wrong. The EAT had correctly considered Mr O'Cathail's disability, but found it was not why the appeal was late. There was no flaw in their legal reasoning and their conclusion was not plainly wrong. It was therefore upheld.

This case is another reminder that the EAT's time-limit is strict. The only safe approach is to make any appeal well before the deadline.