21 January 2020 #Employment
In Duncan Lewis Solicitors Ltd v Miss M Puar the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) clarified the steps that need to be considered when considering a strike out.
In the present case, the Claimant had failed to particularise her claim and was ordered to provide more information. The Claimant failed to do this, and the Tribunal made an unless order i.e. that unless the information be provided the claim would be struck out. The Claimant failed to comply with the unless order and the claim was subsequently struck out.
The Claimant appealed the strike out decision and the ET reinstated the claim. The Respondent then appealed the decision to reinstate and the EAT had to determine whether the claim should have been reinstated. A key argument from the Respondent was that, as a result of failing to provide the information, the Respondent still didn’t know the case against it. Therefore, they didn’t know if a fair trial was possible. The EAT was critical of the ET as the ET did not consider the seriousness of the Claimant’s default when it reinstated the claim, nor did they believe the ET provided sufficient reasons as to why a fair trial was still possible. The EAT held that the decision to reinstate was “vitiated by a lack of adequate reasoning and must be reconsidered afresh”. The EAT went on to say that the Judge gave no adequate reasoning on the issue of the seriousness of the default by the Claimant. The EAT remitted the decision back to the ET.
The Respondent has a right know the case against them. If they do not, then they will not have a fair trial. This case highlights the options available to a Respondent when dealing with a non-compliant Claimant and reiterates the rule of natural justice.