The EAT has recently handed down judgment in Clarke & ors v Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council and Wilson & ors v Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council.
The cases concern the narrow question of whether COT3 agreements in the North-East Equal Pay Litigation were valid.
Of more general significance, the EAT set out (at paragraph 36) the principles under which Acas operates:
- the Acas officer has no responsibility to see that the terms of settlement are fair on the employee
- the expression 'promote a settlement' in s18 of the Employment Tribunals Act 1996 must be given a liberal construction
- the Acas officer must never advise on the merits of the case, and s/he is under no obligation to go through the framework of the relevant legislation.
- it is not for the tribunal to consider whether the Acas officer correctly interpreted her duties; it is sufficient that the officer intended and purported to act under s18
- in theory, if an Acas officer were to act in bad faith or adopt unfair methods when promoting a settlement, the agreement might be set aside (not established in this case).