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Abandoning Claims at the Tribunal

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[Thanks to Caroline Jennings of No 5 Chambers for preparing this case summary]

How should a tribunal approach a situation where a party appears to be seeking to concede, abandon or withdraw part of their case? With great care, according to the EAT (Langstaff P) in Segor v Goodrich Actuation Systems.

The Claim was for race and sex discrimination. The employment tribunal considered that the Claimant's lay representative had abandoned an aspect of the Claimant's discrimination complaint and so did not proceed to determine that aspect.

The Claimant's appeal against the non determination of part of her complaint was allowed. The EAT held that a tribunal should take great care to ensure that if a party seeks to abandon or to concede a central and important point during the course of a hearing, that that is precisely what the individual wishes to do. The EAT considered it important for a tribunal to pause, and check and note with clarity and care what precisely is being said. The individual should understand the significance of what is being said and, if they are unrepresented, they should understand some of the consequences that may flow. As a matter of principle, a concession or withdrawal cannot properly be accepted unless it is 'clear, unequivocal and unambiguous'.