Can the lack of an email 'bounceback' amount to a good excuse for filing an appeal to the EAT late?
Yes, held the EAT in Hawkes v Oxford Economics Ltd.
Mr Hawkes appealed against a tribunal decision by a series of emails attaching all the relevant documents between 15:29 and 16:00 on the last day to present his appeal. An email at 15:33 attached the notice of appeal, but for unknown reasons this email was not received by the EAT despite being properly addressed.
Mr Hawkes found out 10 days later when the EAT wrote to him stating that it had not received a notice of appeal. He had received no 'bounceback' email informing him of any error or delay in the 15:33 email. HHJ Shanks decided that this could amount to a good reason for the delay in filing the notice of appeal saying:
"It seems to me that whatever happened is unusual these days: in general I would consider that in the absence of a “bounceback” email it is reasonable to assume that an email which has been properly sent will be received by the addressee in a matter of seconds."
It is worth noting that Mr Hawkes was a litigant in person, and the EAT is generally stricter on represented parties who miss the deadline when submitting on the last day. Mrs Justice Eady recommended to the EAT User Group that legally represented parties use the new CE-File system to submit new appeals. Not only is there automatic confirmation of the date and time of submission, but the EAT administration can process cases more quickly on that system the more people use it.
Thanks to Matthew Jackson of Albion Chambers for preparing this case summary.