Hamling v Coxlease School Limited, EAT, 19 May 2006
Ms Hamling submitted a claim form to the tribunal without including her address, but it did contain the contact details of her solicitors. The form was not accepted by the tribunal due to the missing address.
She applied for a review of the decision, but the chairman backed the original one, stating that the procedure rule requiring the claimant’s address on a claim form was clear and unambiguous, and did not allow for interpretation or the exercise of judicial discretion. She successfully appealed to the EAT.
The EAT held that the claimant’s address was not relevant, required information. The form had been submitted by her solicitor for whom full contact details were provided and to whom all further communication would be addressed. It held that even if the personal address was “relevant”, it was not “material”; again due to the fact that her solicitor’s details were included on the claim form. However, it did acknowledge that a claimant’s address may be relevant information if instructions are withdrawn from representatives.
The decision illustrates the EAT’s willingness to adopt a more relaxed approach to the employment tribunal rules than the first instance tribunals, thereby preventing technical points depriving a claimant (or respondent) of justice.