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Extension of Time

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Are the merits of a claim a relevant consideration when deciding whether it is just and equitable to extend the time limit for discrimination claims?

They are not necessarily an irrelevant consideration, held the EAT in Kumari v Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, so long as the tribunal approaches the question with caution, identifies sound particular reasons to support the assessment of merits and keeps in mind that it does not have all the evidence before it.

The Claimant brought claims of race discrimination that were out of time. The tribunal rejected her application to extend time for the claims at a preliminary hearing, which was based in part on its assessment that the merits of the claims were weak (although not so weak as to have no reasonable prospect of success).

The Claimant appealed on the basis that the tribunal was wrong to take account of the merits of her claims. The EAT, dismissing her appeal, found that the tribunal had approached the assessment of merits appropriately and properly weighed that finding into the balance of whether it was just and equitable to extend time.

Thanks to Nicholas Kennan of Cornwall Street Barristers for preparing this case summary.