Midland Packaging Ltd v Clark, Court of Appeal - United Kingdom Employment Appeal Tribunal, February 14, 2005, [2005] UKEAT 1146_04_1402

Resolution Date:February 14, 2005
Issuing Organization:United Kingdom Employment Appeal Tribunal
Actores:Midland Packaging Ltd v Clark
 
FREE EXCERPT

Copyright 2005

Appeal No. UKEATPA/1146/04/RN

EMPLOYMENT APPEAL TRIBUNAL

58 VICTORIA EMBANKMENT, LONDON EC4Y 0DS

At the Tribunal

On 14 February 2005

Before

THE HONOURABLE MR JUSTICE BURTON (PRESIDENT)

(AS IN CHAMBERS)

MIDLAND PACKAGING LTD APPELLANT

MRS S CLARK RESPONDENT

Transcript of Proceedings

JUDGMENT

APPEAL FROM REGISTRAR'S ORDER

UKEATPA/1146/04/RN

APPEARANCES

SUMMARY

Practice and Procedure

Finding that Notice of Appeal (containing 21 pages including necessary documents), whose faxing to the EAT had commenced prior to 4.00 pm on the 42nd day but had not been completed (and not printed out at all) until after 4.00 pm (printing commencing at 4.06 pm) was not out of time.

UKEATPA/1146/04/RN

- 10 -

THE HONOURABLE MR JUSTICE BURTON (PRESIDENT)

  1. This has been the hearing of an appeal by the proposed Appellant, Midland Packaging Ltd, against a Decision of the Registrar on 21 December 2004, that the Notice of Appeal, to which I shall refer, against a Decision of the Employment Tribunal, was out of time, and that an extension of time was refused.

  2. The Appellant has today been represented by Mr Taylor, and the Respondent by Mr Mortis, and the issue has been considerably narrowed down, and, indeed, the dispute between the parties similarly narrowed down, in the course of argument before me. The judgment of the Employment Tribunal, against which an appeal is sought to be made by the Appellant, was the unanimous decision of the Employment Tribunal at Birmingham, after a hearing on 19 May 2004, in Reasons sent to the parties on 22 June 2004, that the Applicant was unfairly dismissed.

  3. The Notice of Appeal raises issues which the Respondent does not seek to suggest are wholly unarguable, in the sense that Mr Mortis does not make it part of his submission today that, in accordance with the dictum of Sir Christopher Staughton in Aziz v Bethnal Green City Challenge Co Ltd [2000] IRLR 111, at paragraph 23:

    ``...if it is plain that the appeal has no prospect of success that must be a matter which should be taken into account. There can be no point in giving an extension of time for an appeal which is bound to fail.''

  4. Although, of course, if this appeal goes further, it will require to be sifted, and it may be that a view might, at that stage, be taken under rule 3 that there are no reasonable grounds for the appeal, I do not consider that question today, because, as I have indicated, it is not before me; nor have I addressed it at all, so that the issue is entirely open. I simply say that it has not been argued before me today, and, therefore, no conclusion is reached as to the arguability of the appeal, one way or the other.

  5. The question, then, is one wholly of principle, arising out of the importance which this Appeal Tribunal places, as do other courts, upon compliance with time limits. This is not simple a pernickety approach by the courts. Compliance with time limits has very considerable importance in relation to the bringing of appeals. If an appeal is out of time, then the question as to whether it can go forward becomes one of jurisdiction; albeit, of course, there is a discretion to be exercised, on the face of it there is no jurisdiction in an appeal court to hear an out of time appeal. Therefore the public is entitled to be protected from cases going forward which are out of time, and cluttering up to the courts. There is still life in the old latin maxim, sit finis litium, and a successful party below is entitled to assume, once the time limit is up, that the decision below remains unchallenged and can be enforced and acted upon.

  6. The period of 42 days in the Employment Appeal Tribunal is an extremely generous one. It is three times the period allowed for a Notice of Appeal in the County Court or in the High Court; and in Sian v Abbey National plc [2004] IRLR 185, I said, in relation to that case:

    ``(1) It is essential, in my judgment, to have a firm date so that the Appellant and, which is very important, the Respondent, should have certainty.

    (2) The 42 days is a lengthy period, as has been commented upon in previous decisions both of the Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal. It is a very generous period and one which, in fact, is now 3 times as long as that permitted by the Court of Appeal itself under the Civil...

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