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Unfair Dismissal Time Limits

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[Thanks to David Campion of EAD Solicitors for preparing this case summary]

The EAT (Underhill P) has handed down its decision in John Lewis Partnership v Charman, which restates the proposition that it may not be 'reasonably practicable' for an unfair dismissal claim to be presented within the time limit, if an employee is reasonably ignorant of the time limit prior to receiving the outcome of an internal appeal against dismissal and presents the claim within a reasonable period thereafter. 

The Claimant was dismissed on 13th March 2010 and had, under the three month time limit, until 12th June 2010 to present an unfair dismissal claim. The Claimant, who was not aware of time limits, attended an appeal hearing on 24th May 2010. The Claimant was sent a letter dated 28th June 2010 dismissing his appeal which was only received by the Claimant in mid-July 2010 due to him being away. The Claimant's claim was presented on 21st July 2010. 

The EAT upheld the Employment Tribunal's decision that it had not been reasonably practicable for the Claimant to present a claim before the determination of his internal appeal and that he had presented his claim within a reasonable period thereafter. The EAT confirmed that whether it is reasonably practicable for a claim to be brought within time is normally a question of fact for an Employment Tribunal and therefore will only be overturned if found to be perverse.