DIY litigation disaster

Posted: 28th December 2012

In a cautionary tale for those tempted to launch employment tribunal proceedings without first taking legal advice, the country’s leading employment judge has lamented the ‘regrettable waste of money, time and effort’ that resulted from the absence of focused submissions in an unfair dismissal case.

The employee, who did not have the benefit of legal representation in the early stages of his claim, launched employment tribunal proceedings two years ago but there has yet to be a substantive hearing of his case due to procedural difficulties that required the intervention of the Court of Appeal.RCJ

Those difficulties resulted in him being prevented from pursuing a ‘whistle-blowing’ claim that he had been automatically unfairly dismissed on grounds of a protected disclosure. His lawyers also argued that the tribunal’s attempts to isolate the real issues in the case at pre-hearing reviews had seriously undermined his case.

However, in dismissing his appeal, the Court of Appeal ruled that, although he had been refused permission to pursue the whistle-blowing claim, the list of issues identified by the tribunal did not inhibit him from challenging the employer’s plea that his dismissal was justified by reason of lack of capability.

Observing that costs bills in the case are already estimated at close to £40,000, Lord Justice Mummery observed: ‘Almost everything that has happened in this case since the pre-hearing review nearly two years ago has been a regrettable waste of money, time and effort. The proceedings are no further forward than they were in 2010.’