Employers have been warned of the importance of following proper tribunal procedures after a company was ordered to pay almost £49,000 to a claimant after missing the 28-day response deadline.
Music systems firm NSM Music missed the deadline for lodging its response form after receiving a claim of unfair dismissal from a former employee.
Under the 2004 procedural rules, a tribunal has the option of entering a default judgment or ordering that the respondent take no further part in the proceedings when the deadline is missed.
NSM Music applied for a review, which was rejected, and then failed to lodge an appeal against the refusal of the review. The tribunal’s decision, as unreviewed and unappealed, therefore had the draconian effect that the company was not only debarred from contesting liability at any hearing, but also the remedy hearing.
No official figures exist as to how many respondents miss the 28-day deadline when responding to claims, but Daniel Barnett, an employment lawyer at 1 Temple Gardens, said it was a common occurrence.
“Employers missing the response deadline happens on a massive scale. I have been involved in a lot of cases where it has happened and it has widespread implications,” he said.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal has ‘starred’ this judgment, indicating it is of particular importance to employers.