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Can permission to issue employment tribunal proceedings be given retrospectively to a Claimant who is subject to a Civil Procedure Order (‘CPO’)?
No, held the EAT in Williamson v The Bishop of London & ors.
The Claimant was subject to a CPO, requiring him to obtain permission from the High Court to commence civil proceedings. He brought a claim for age discrimination in the tribunal without the required permission. The Claimant subsequently applied to the High Court for retrospective permission. The Order made by the High Court gave the Claimant permission to pursue the existing claim and, in the alternative, granted him permission to issue proceedings in the tribunal. 
The tribunal held that the proceedings already commenced in the tribunal were a nullity, paragraph 1 of the Order had no effect as it was not possible to give retrospective permission under a CPO.
The EAT agreed. The High Court decision in AG v Edwards, although not binding, was a persuasive authority. That judgment was consistent with the purpose and wording of s42(1A) Senior Courts Act 1981 which imposed a substantive, not merely procedural bar, on the commencement of civil proceedings by the Claimant.