As a general rule, claimants are only allowed to bring Employment Tribunal claims after submitting an ACAS Early Conciliation (EC) form and eventually receiving an EC certificate. 

The Question

The question is, is the time limit extended in the same matter where a second period of AAS EC has taken place?

The Case

In HMRC v Garau, the Employment Appeal Tribunal concluded that that a second period of ACAS EC in the same matter does not extend the time limit.

The Facts

During his 3 month notice period (but prior to his dismissal by HMRC on 30 December 2015), Mr Garau submitted an ACAS EC notification against his employer, HMRC.

Settlement was not reached via ACAS an EC certificate was issued on 4 November 2015. 

His deadline for bringing a claim was therefore 29 March 2016.

On 28 March 2016, he submitted a 2nd ACAS EC notification form in the same matter. A 2nd EC certificate was issued on 25 April 2016. His ET claim was then submitted on 25 May 2016. 

The ET Judgment

The Employment Tribunal held that as the clock had 'stopped' during the second EC period and ACAS had issued a valid certificate, the claim was in time.

On appeal the EAT

The EAT on the other hand stated that because it is only mandatory for a Claimant to notify ACAS once under the EC scheme, it is only the first EC certificate in any matter which can extend the time limits for bringing an ET claim. 

This meant that the second EC certificate could not modify the limitation period, which expired on 29 March 2016.

Commentary

One could hold this judgment somewhat be bureaucratic in nature. Surely if the second EC certificate was valid, it could also extend the time limit.

Evidently not.

Claimants should therefore be cautious in their approach towards time limits.