Don’t play chicken with the Employment Appeal Tribunal

Miller v Lambeth Primary Care Trust is the latest cautionary tale about the need to make sure that appeals to the EAT are brought in time and properly constituted.

In Miller the appeal was presented one day late and without all the necessary documents. By the time the documents were sorted out, the appeal was two days late. Mrs Miller tried to have time extended, but the EAT, highlighting again the strict time-limit, refused her application.

The interesting point is HHJ McMullen’s discussion of improperly constituted appeals. He notes that an astonishing 600-odd appeals a year to the EAT (of a total of about 2000) are invalid because they do not contain the necessary documents. Mostly the problem is sorted out, because the EAT staff contact the appellant, who then sends in the documents within the time-limit. But when appeals are lodged very close to the deadline, there isn’t time to do this. The appeal is then out of time, and as HHJ McMullen points out, very few of these are allowed back in.

A high percentage of appeals to the EAT are lodged on the final day. As Miller highlights this is a high risk strategy, particularly if you are not experienced in bringing appeals.

The moral is:

  • Make sure all the necessary documents are lodged with your appeal — check carefully against paragraph 2.1 of the Practice Direction.
  • Lodge the appeal at least a week ahead of the deadline.

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