EAT deadlines: EAT extends deadline for appeal where the employer’s CEO was suffering from ADHD and depression

EAT deadlines: EAT extends deadline for appeal where the employer’s CEO was suffering from ADHD and depression's Tags

Tags related to this article

EAT deadlines: EAT extends deadline for appeal where the employer’s CEO was suffering from ADHD and depression

Published 14 octubre 2022

The EAT has extended a deadline to appeal in circumstances where the CEO’s ADHD and depression were a significant factor in the employer’s failure to submit its application in time.  

THE FACTS

Mr Daly was employed by MTN-1 Ltd, which is a small employer. He was dismissed and he submitted a tribunal claim for wrongful and unfair dismissal.  MTN did not submit a response to Mr Daly’s claim, and a judgment was entered in Mr Daly’s favour.  MTN sought to appeal to the EAT, but it submitted the appeal after 4pm on the last day for appealing, and the appeal was therefore treated as being out of time.

MTN gave the EAT several reasons for submitting the appeal out of time.  Its offices were closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic and Mr Tims, the CEO, had become immersed in dealing with a cash flow crisis.  He was also affected by a close friend’s Covid-related coma.  Mr Tims was described as having been in a “very dark place” in the weeks leading up to the EAT deadline and not fit to engage with the proceedings.  Mr Tims gave evidence that he suffered from ADHD and depression and, connected with the ADHD, he had a tendency to “hyperfocus”.  His evidence was that, in the months before the deadline, his hyperfocus was on dealing with the company’s cash flow crisis and that he was unable to prioritise or focus on anything else (in spite of his solicitors’ attempts to make him engage).  It was not until the proceedings became an absolute emergency that he managed to focus on them.

The EAT accepted Mr Tims’ evidence about his mental impairments.  It also accepted that the way in which these impairments interacted with the various unfolding business and personal circumstances was a material and substantial part of the explanation for why the EAT appeal was not submitted in time. In particular, the EAT accepted Mr Tims’ tendency to hyperfocus explained his lack of engagement with the legal processes.  The EAT therefore allowed the extension of time.  The EAT did, however, comment that none of the other circumstances on which MTN was relying would, absent Mr Tims’ mental conditions, justify an extension of time. 

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR EMPLOYERS?

This case is very fact specific.  EAT deadlines are generally strictly enforced.  It is unlikely that, in a larger employer, the CEO’s neurodiversity alone  would be sufficient grounds for an extension. 

It is possible that individual employees will use this case to request extensions to EAT deadlines and if this happens, employers will need to balance the potential negative message it might send out were they to strenuously object, particularly if they are taking steps to attract neurodiverse talent.  

MTN-1 Limited v Mr David Ross O’Daly

Authors

Zoë Wigan

Zoë Wigan

London - Walbrook

+44 (0)20 7894 6564

Hilary Larter

Hilary Larter

Leeds

+44 (0)113 251 4710

Ceri Fuller

Ceri Fuller

London - Walbrook

+44 (0)20 7894 6583

< Back to articles