The case of Miah v Axis Security Services Ltd is a useful reminder to keep a close eye on time limits for presenting a claim in the Employment Tribunal. Mr Miah had sought to bring a claim for unfair dismissal against his former employer. There was no argument that the time limit to present the claim expired on Sunday 29 January 2017. However, the Tribunal received (and stamped) the claim form on Monday 30 January 2017.
It was argued by Mr Miah that provisions in the Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure 2013 (ET Rules) allowed him extra time to present his claim because the time limit expired on a non-working day. The provisions Mr Miah relied on state:
“If the time specified by these Rules, a practice direction or an order for doing any act ends on a day other than a working day, the act is done in time if it is done on the next working day. “Working day” means any day except a Saturday or Sunday, Christmas Day, Good Friday or a bank holiday…”
The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) disagreed with Mr Miah and found that this wording applies only to the ET Rules themselves or to relevant Practice Directions and Tribunal Orders. It does not apply to time limits set out in legislation like the Employment Rights Act 1996 (where the strict time limits for bringing claims for unfair dismissal are set out).
The EAT considered that Parliament had made clear provision for exceptions to the strict application of time limits in the Employment Rights Act 1996 itself – the provisions of the ET Rules did not change this and did not automatically extend time for claims to be presented.
Whilst not an unexpected result, this case is useful as a reminder to employers to always double check whether any disgruntled ex-employee seeking to pursue a claim is in fact out of time to do so. If all or part of a claim has been presented outside of the limitation period, the employer will be able to set this out in its response and ask the Tribunal to determine this as a preliminary issue at a separate hearing.