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Reason for 4-year delay in submitting tribunal claim not sufficient for extension

Reason for 4-year delay in submitting tribunal claim not sufficient for extension
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

The Employment Tribunal (ET) had to consider whether the time limit for submitting a tribunal claim should be extended in the case of Mr S W Kibrom v Uber London Limited.

 Employment tribunal time limits

 The time limit for bringing a claim depends upon the type of claim. For most, it is three months minus one day, but for some it is six months minus one day. When the time limit starts also depends upon the type of claim, so, it could start from the effective date of termination, the date when the employee was last paid, or the last act of discrimination.

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Submission of claim

In this case, the claimant submitted claims of unfair dismissal, failure to pay accrued holiday pay and unauthorised deduction from wages. However, there was a gap of around four years from when they stopped working as an Uber driver, to when they first contacted ACAS seeking Early Conciliation. If the claimant’s employment ended at the end of May 2019, the time limit would have expired at the end of August 2019, so these claims were issued outside of the statutory time period. 

Extension of time limits

An ET can exercise its discretion and allow an extension of the time limit if it is just and equitable to do so. The onus is on the claimant in such situations to prove to the ET that presenting their claim in time was not reasonably practicable.

The claimant said that the reasons for the delay were as follows:

  • They were only given the reason for the termination of engagement over the telephone, and they were not able to appeal.
  • They were unemployed for a period of eight months until 2020, at which point they obtained other employment.
  • They say that the law about the status of Uber drivers was uncertain.
  • They first become aware they might have a claim when they were approached by a firm of solicitors representing Uber drivers in 2023.

The ET had to, therefore, consider whether time should be extended to allow the claims to proceed.

Employment Tribunal findings

The ET found that the claimant ought to have known of the potential to bring a claim when their time as an Uber driver was terminated. This was because the claimant was dissatisfied with the way in which they were treated and so the ET stated that they ought to have considered whether tribunal proceedings could be brought at that point or could have taken steps to understand their rights. The ET found that it was reasonably practicable for the claimant to have issued proceedings within three months and ignorance of their legal rights was not reasonable. The claims were, therefore, dismissed as the ET has no jurisdiction to consider them.

This case shows that if a claim is submitted that appears out of time the respondent can challenge it by asking the ET to strike out the claim. A preliminary hearing is likely then to be arranged for the ET to consider, as was the case here.

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