What did the Employment Tribunal and judge refute?
The Employment Tribunal London rejected Statham Gill Davies Solicitors’ argument to dismiss the case due to Mrs Fabry’s delayed submission. This rejection was consequential of a mere legal technicality as she had previously brought a claim forward much earlier. However, the court nullified her previous claim as she was not officially an executor of her son’s estate at the time.
During the first claim, the judgement noted that Mrs Fabry received potentially inaccurate legal advice on how to present her claim. This is a key point to take away from this case and article: the lack of clarity from employment solicitors means that any errors made by legal advisors cannot be held against their clients in circumstances such as these.
Furtheremore, administrative proceedings of the Employment Tribunal itself and the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in additional delays. If the judge denies Mrs Fabry an extension of time, the judgement noted that the following reasons would block her access to justice:
- a combination of a complex legal issue,
- inefficiencies in the Employment Tribunal’s administrative processes, he influence of the COVID-19 pandemic and inaccurate advice from her previous legal advisors.
Judge Klimov also dismissed the law firm’s assertions that allowing the claim to proceed would cause them prejudice. He also refuted their claim that the delay in time would hinder their access to relevant evidence due to the passage of time.
Although the judge dismissed this argument on evidence, it is worth remembering that a company must only keep records for 6 years and will likely, in the case of a law firm, delete records after 7 years. This means that the relevant paperwork may not be available, and any witnesses might have moved on to other employments.
Asserting that the firm was not disadvantaged, Judge Klimov stated that:
“The respondents’ evidence is that they had preserved sufficient materials to deal with the factual allegations […] Their defence is that the reason for Mr. Fabry’s dismissal was lack of work, hence a redundancy situation, and in any event the partners who made the decision to dismiss him for that reason did not know that he had a disability at the time of making that decision.”
The judge also noted that the law firm did not claim that the relevant individuals were unable to provide reliable evidence.