Early conciliation: Claim had to be rejected for failure to comply with early conciliation rules
Published 12 May 2015
In this case the EAT considered whether the tribunal had been right to reject a claim where the Claimant had not contacted Acas to discuss early conciliation.
The Claimant put in a claim to an employment tribunal without contacting Acas under the early conciliation procedure. While the claimant’s reluctance to initiate the procedure was understandable, given that the claim involved allegations of sexual harassment and physical abuse, the Claimant did not fall within any of the statutory exemptions, so the tribunal had rejected the claim. The EAT upheld that decision. The requirement for Acas early conciliation was absolute and strict. There was nothing in the Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure that allowed discretion.
The President of the EAT, who had the utmost sympathy for the Claimant, noted that ‘the very thought of conciliation...would be problematic’ in the Claimant's case, since it would involve talking to someone who had (allegedly) treated her appallingly. He noted that perhaps she did not appreciate that, if she had explained the situation to the Acas early conciliation officer, he or she would likely have concluded that there was no point in conciliation and would have granted the early conciliation certificate, allowing the claim to proceed.
What this means for employers
This decision highlights that the early conciliation rules are hard and fast. Even in a case where the claimant had the fullest sympathy of the tribunal and EAT the rules could not be bent.
Cranwell v Cullen