Wednesday 18 October 2006

Claim Forms - Missing Information

The EAT has held that the failure by a Claimant to include her address on her Claim Form (as required by the rules) is not necessarily a fatal omission.

Under rules 1 and 3 of the Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2004, all Claim Forms must contain certain required information or they will not be accepted. Amongst the required information is "each Claimant's address".

Ms Hamling left the address space blank, but completed box 12 with the details of her solicitors (including their address).

In a wonderful example of judicial sophistry, the EAT held that the phrase "The Secretary shall not accept the claim...if it is clear to him that...the claim does not include all the relevant required information" meant that the Claimant's address had to be relevant to the substance of her claim - and it was not (paras. 36-37). This is nonsense - the word 'relevant' refers back to the list of mandatory items to be included in a claim form (set out in rule 1), and not to a value judgement on the importance or significance of that information.

The EAT went on to hold, following Burton J. in Richardson v U Mole, that the Claimant's address was not a material omission (paras. 38-39). This is a much better reason for its decision!

Ultimately, this again shows the appellate courts' willingness to stretch the wording of the rules so as to prevent technical points depriving a Claimant (or Respondent) of justice.

Hamling v Coxlease School

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