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Staying Tribunal Proceedings

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[Thanks to Louise Jones of Temple Garden Chambers for providing this case summary]

The EAT (HHJ Ansell) has given judgment in Gloucestershire Constabulary v Peters, finding that the tribunal erred in respect of a case management decision not to allow a further stay of proceedings brought under the DDA by an employee who was also the subject of a police fraud investigation.

The EAT noted that Employment Judges dealing with case management decisions do have "a very, very wide discretion under rule 10" which the EAT should be reluctant in the extreme to interfere with, but observed the principle in Bastick v James Lane (Turf Accountants) Ltd [1979] ICR 778 that for the EAT to interfere, it was necessary to show that the tribunal had improperly taken into account some matter, or had failed to take into account a relevant matter, or that the decision was perverse.

In this case, the employee was facing a police investigation into periods of historic sick leave, effectively to enquire into whether she had been as unwell as she maintains. Before the tribunal, she claimed that she had suffered a disability since 2003. The Employment Judge refused to grant a further stay, there having between two earlier stays, but the EAT held that there was a substantial overlap of issues between the ongoing, high-level police investigation and the tribunal proceedings which had not been properly taken into account by the Employment Judge and he had incorrectly exercised his discretion. An open-ended stay, however, was not appropriate and a limited, final stay was ordered by the EAT to give the Police time to "get their tackle in order".