10 July 2020|
ET / EAT Procedure
Participation in government consultations/enquiries
#COVIDtimelimits campaign update: Farore Law responds to Liz Truss MP
Farore Law has responded to Elizabeth Truss MP, Minister for Women and Equalities, regarding the ongoing #COVIDtimelimits campaign.
The campaign, supported by over 20 organisations, calls for the introduction of legislation to temporarily extend the timeline from 3 to 6 months for harassment and discrimination claims for which the deadline falls within the period of the coronavirus pandemic. It was launched in recognition of the current difficulties faced by claimants in meeting the current deadline of 3 months, it being one of the shortest for any kind of civil claim.
The Minister’s response to the initial letter sent to the Lord Chancellor (the Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP) maintains that a change to legislation under emergency measures is not needed “in light of the flexibility built into the law to allow for extension to time limits”. This flexibility refers to a data-gathering exercise conducted in 2018, during which the Minister claims that “every request for extension on Equality Act 2010 grounds was found to have been granted over a three-month period.”
Farore Law’s response to the Minister takes issue with this point as the data-gathering exercise on which the Minister’s response appears to rely is fundamentally flawed. This is on the basis that it only collected data at an initial administrative decision stage, rather than later in litigation where the vast majority of – if not all – claims which fail on time limits grounds are dismissed. It only recorded the outcome of the vetting stage (rather than any subsequent judicial consideration of section 123(1) of the Equality Act 2020), and so it is to be expected that it did not identify any cases where time limits were detrimental to a claim.
Farore Law has therefore asked the Minister to reconsider the request for an extension to time limits based on this corrected understanding of the data.
Furthermore, Farore Law also submitted that there are now strong grounds for permanently extending the time limit for all Employment Tribunal claims to 6 months, in accordance with the recent Law Commission report published in April 2020.
All key documents are available to download below. We remain grateful to our co-signatories and other supporters of the #COVIDtimelimits campaign and will continue to post updates as and when they arise.
On 23 July 2020, the Times reported that key members of the legal profession have also called for an extension to Employment Tribunal time limits. These include:
Simon Davis, President of the Law Society: “We strongly support the idea of raising the time limit for bringing all employment tribunal claims to within six months.”
Juliet Carp, Chairwoman of the Employment Lawyers Association, who agrees and argues that more needs to be done: “Changes could undoubtedly be made to employment law and tribunal practices to improve efficiency and justice.”