News from the EAT

The President of the Employment Appeal Tribunal has asked members of the EAT User Group to relay his comments on a couple of matters. The following is my summary of his remarks, followed by my own views (which should not be confused with the President’s).

First, people must not try to send appeal bundles or bundles of authorities to the EAT by email. They don’t have the resources to deal with the printing this would involve.

Second, the judges at the EAT are concerned that Notices of Appeal are becoming increasingly long — tending to turn into short stories. And that skeletons have a tendency to turn into full novels. They find this unhelpful and would like us all to be less prolix.

This is an ongoing tension. Judges, in general, want written submissions to be short. Parties and advocates have more complicated objectives (and, ultimately, want to win their case more than they want to keep the judge happy).

We’ve written before about the Court of Appeal’s comments in Tombstone v Raja. More recently, I’ve argued that the Court of Appeal’s attempt to hold onto a primarily oral form of advocacy is both doomed and wrong: Skeletons, fleshy corpses and the Court of Appeal.

But, having said that, most notices of appeal and most skeletons are too long. This is counter-productive, since a short, clear and concise argument is more persuasive than a long and rambling one. In most appeals, the point can be made quite briefly — and should be.

Judges have a limited amount of time and attention to devote to any particular case. It’s generally better, from the advocate’s point of view, for this to be concentrated on a careful consideration of a short document, than a more cursory read of a longer document. This will also have the happy side effect of making the judge’s life easier (or at least not making it harder), which can only help you.

It is easier to write a long skeleton than a short one. But a short skeleton is almost always better. Given the importance of written advocacy in the EAT, it’s well worth making the effort.

5 Replies to “News from the EAT”

  1. Does the first request comply with the overriding objective?
    1.4 j & k

    1.4 Court’s duty to manage cases
    (j) dealing with the case without the parties needing to attend at court;
    (k) making use of technology;

    I don’t think so?
    I don’t have the resources to deal with the printing either..

  2. I see your point (although I think you’re thinking of the Civil Procedure Rules Overriding Objective, rather than the EAT’s, which is subtly different).

    But almost all courts do require the parties to produce the bundle. Off hand, I can only think of the Social Entitlement Chamber (dealing with appeals about benefits) who produce one themselves. So I think the chance of convincing anyone that the general policy is in breach of the Overriding Objective is pretty much nonexistent.

    It might be possible to persuade the EAT to make an exception in an individual case; particularly if it was a matter of making a reasonable adjustment to a disability. But, in general, I’m afraid I suspect that it would be easier to overcome the difficulties of producing a bundle, than to overcome the difficulties of persuading the EAT to do it.

    1. Thanks Micheal..
      I must have been an exception, they accepted my 270 page bundle by e-mail no problem..apart from rejecting my claim.
      Luckily I never had to print it… I don’t have a printer

      1. I suspect you benefited from the fact that the admin staff at the EAT are a naturally pleasant and helpful bunch. From time to time, the judges decide they’re being a bit too pleasant and helpful, and tell them to stop.

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