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Unfair Dismissal: Extension of Time

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 Thanks to Keira Gore of Outer Temple Chambers for preparing this case summary

Does intervention by the Solicitors' Regulation Authority ('SRA') make it not reasonably practicable to present a claim in time? Not on the facts of Sheredes School v Davies.

The Claimant instructed solicitors in relation to an unfair dismissal claim. On 8/10/15 those solicitors advised him to seek new representation but gave no advice as to the time limit for presenting his claim, which was to expire on 25/10/15. The Claimant immediately sought to find new representatives and obtain the file. On 14/10/15 the SRA intervened at the solicitors firm, preventing it from contacting clients, and took possession of its papers. The Claimant was unaware of the intervention.

On 5/11/15 (11 days out of time) the Claimant saw another solicitor who advised him for the first time of the time limit for bringing a claim. The Claimant presented his claim without the file or the benefit of legal assistance on 10/11/15.

The employment tribunal extended time on the basis that the SRA intervention was a "special reason" that made it not reasonably practicable to present the claim in time.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal substituted a decision that the claim was out of time on the basis that the failure to present it in time arose from the fault of the solicitors who did not advise the Claimant of the time limit on 8/10/15; had the Claimant been correctly advised he could have presented his claim in time regardless of the SRA intervention.