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Importance of the ACAS early conciliation certificate

The Employment Appeal Tribunal in the case of Giny v SNA Transport Ltd has held that an error on the early conciliation certificate means the claim should be rejected.

Background

The Claimant’s solicitors submitted a claim form against the Claimant’s former employer, SNA Transport Ltd, for a number of claims including constructive unfair dismissal.

However, when unrepresented, the Claimant had incorrectly identified a director of the Company, Shakoor Nadeen Ahmed, as the employer on the ACAS early conciliation certificate.

The Employment Tribunal rejected the claim because of the Claimant’s failure to correctly identify the Respondent on the ACAS early conciliation certificate.

The Claimant appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

The law

A claim can be rejected for substantive defects including:

  • Where the claim form does not contain either an early conciliation number or confirmation that one of the early conciliation exemptions applies.
  • Where the claim form incorrectly states that the one of the EC exemptions applies when it does not.
  • Where the name of the claimant on the claim form is not the same as the name of the prospective claimant on the EC certificate to which the early conciliation number relates.
  • Where the name of the respondent on the claim form is not the same as the name of the prospective respondent on the EC certificate to which the early conciliation number relates.

In the case of rejection of claim forms on the ground that the name of the claimant or respondent do not match those on the early conciliation certificate, the tribunal may decide that the claimant made a “minor error” in relation to a name or address and it would not be in the interests of justice to reject the claim.

Decision

The Employment Appeal Tribunal rejected the Claimant’s claim.

It explained that a tribunal should apply a two-stage test when considering whether a claim should be rejected because of a difference in name on the claim form and the early conciliation certificate.

  • Was it a minor error?
  • If so, is it in the interests of justice to allow the claim to proceed?

The Employment Appeal Tribunal held that although each case will depend on the facts, in this scenario incorrectly identifying a director rather than the Company was not a minor error.

Comment

This case highlights the importance of the ACAS early conciliation certificate especially when identifying the correct prospective Respondent. If a claim is submitted against a business, it should always check that the correct legal name has been inserted as a discrepancy could result in the claim being rejected.

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