The normal rules governing Employment Tribunal (ET) procedures are contained in the Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2004. Rule 1(4) states that the details of a claim must include all the ‘relevant required information’, which includes the claimant's name and address.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has sometimes been critical of the Rules and the way in which they are administered by ET Chairmen who, it believes, should exercise a judicial role, with the overriding objective of seeing that justice is done.
In the recent case of Hamling v Coxlease School Ltd., Ms Hamling claimed that her former employer had unfairly dismissed her, had discriminated against her on grounds of sex and/or disability and had wrongly calculated her redundancy payment. The ET Chairman rejected the claim because Ms Hamling’s personal address had been omitted from the claim form. Her solicitor’s address was included however.
The EAT judged that the definition of ‘relevant required information’ is such that even information listed in Rule 1(4) need not be provided unless it is ‘relevant’ to do so on that particular claim form. By this definition, Ms Hamling’s address was not relevant information. In practical terms, the claim could proceed as the form indicates that if a representative’s details are given, all further communications will be addressed to them.
In addition, the EAT judged that where a claim is referred to the ET Chairman because it does not provide the relevant required information, the Chairman should consider whether the failure in question is material or immaterial in the context of the particular claim and the requirement of the Rules. In this case, the EAT was satisfied that the failure to provide Ms Hamling’s personal address was both irrelevant and immaterial, so there was no breach of the relevant Rule and the appeal was allowed.