22 September 2017 #Employment
In the case of De Mota v ADR Network, Mr De Mota was employed as an LGV Driver with ADR Network and lost his job after a complaint was made against him by the Co-op, one of ADRs customers. He submitted a claim against both parties with an Early Conciliation (EC) Certificate naming both companies as respondents.
When the case reached the Tribunal, the respondents argued that the Tribunal did not have jurisdiction to hear the claim as Mr De Mota should have completed a separate EC form for each respondent (in line with the EC Procedure Rules). The Tribunal agreed with them.
Allowing the appeal, the EAT held that the Employment Tribunals Act did not impose a requirement that the EC certificate should only refer to one respondent, just that there had to be one in existence. In its view, Parliament did not intend that the process leading up to the issuing of the certificate should be subject to criticism or examination by the parties or the Tribunal. The fact that ACAS had issued a single EC Certificate in error did not make it unlawful.
The case serves as a reminder that the EAT does not like technical defences which rely on alleged defects in the EC process. Nonetheless, claimants are still advised to complete a separate EC form for each respondent or risk ACAS rejecting them and creating delays. For further advice on early conciliation please contact the Employment Team.