06 April 2018
In SoS BEIS v Parry and The Trustees of the Williams Jones’s School Foundation, the Court of Appeal (overturning the EAT’s decision) confirmed that even if a claim form has no particulars attached, in some circumstances a Respondent can still respond to the claim.
The Claimant’s ET1 confirmed she was bringing claims for unfair dismissal (following a redundancy) and arrears of pay. In the ET1, her solicitors referred to attached particulars of claim. However, the particulars attached to the ET1 were for a different claim.
While the EAT held that the ET1 could not be sensibly responded to, the Court of Appeal disagreed. Given that the Respondent knew the Claimant had been dismissed, it was deemed to be able to sensibly respond to the ET1, even without particulars (as further particulars could be supplied in due course).
Interestingly, the Court of Appeal also confirmed (again overturning the EAT’s ruling) that the rule which allows an employment judge to reject a claim that cannot be sensibly responded to without a hearing is not ultra vires (i.e. beyond the scope of the legislation under which the ET Rules were made).
The case may be a setback to Respondents, who could find themselves needing to answer claims for which they do not have full particulars. However, in this case (as the ET1 form stated it was for unfair dismissal), the broad outline of the claims was known to the parties. If the claim was an unparticularised claim for discrimination, the Court of Appeal noted a Tribunal might (depending on the specific circumstances) deem this more difficult to respond to and reject the claim for not being capable of being sensibly responded to.