Tribunal Procedure.

Wrong Early Conciliation number stated on a Form ET1 is potentially fatal.

The ET was concerned with two claims lodged by the Claimant. The first gave an incorrect ACAS early conciliation (“EC”) number – relating to a different Claimant and a different claim; the second gave the number of an EC certificate that was invalid. Neither had been rejected by the ET under Rule 10 ET Rules nor had the claims been referred to an Employment Judge under Rule 12. At a Preliminary Hearing before the ET, the Claimant applied to amend his claim to correct the ACAS EC number. The ET allowed the application, see this as consistent with the overriding objective and the general principle of access to justice given that this was a minor amendment to rectify a technical error. The Respondent appealed.

Held: allowing the appeal

The Claimant’s claims failed to include an accurate ACAS EC number and were thus of a kind described at Rule 12(1)(c) ET Rules. Pursuant to Rule 12(2), the Employment Judge was therefore required to reject the claims and return the claims to the Claimant; that was a mandatory requirement that was not limited to a particular stage of the proceedings. As this would mean that there was no longer a claim before the ET, the Employment Judge had no power to allow the Claimant to amend; the correct procedure was instead that laid down by Rule 13. The Claimant argued that the ET’s decision could be upheld by virtue of Rule 6, read together with the overriding objective. Rule 6 could not, however, import a discretion into a mandatory Rule Cranwell v Cullen UKEATPAS/0046/14, [2015] UKEAT 0046_14_2003 and Baisley v South Lanarkshire Council [2017] ICR 365 applied. Moreover, Rule 6 applied to ET proceedings but the mandatory rejection and return of the claim under Rule 12(2) meant that there were no proceedings before the ET.

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