It’s time to EAT!

Recently, in the case of The Governing Body of Tywyn Primary School v Aplin, an important administrative measure was up for discussion. The question that arose in this case was whether the strict approach to extension of time in the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) also applied to Cross- Appeals.
In this case Aplin succeeded before a tribunal and the respondent appealed in which he was given permission for. The EAT order required an Answer and Notice of the Cross- Appeal to be filed by the same deadline. Aplin appealed for an extension of two weeks in order to file documents to prepare for the hearing. The EAT registrar treated this as an application to extend time to file the Answer but not any Cross- Appeal. The time was extended for the Answer and not the Cross-Appeal which wasn’t clear from the written order. Aplin then filed on Answer and Notice of Cross-Appeal at the same time. He was in time for the Answer but out of time for the Cross-Appeal. The registrar refused an extension of time, relying on the case of Slingsby v Griffith Smith Solicitors, stating time limits and extension for both appeals and cross appeals weren’t granted except in “rare and exceptional circumstances”.
However, the EAT held this was wrong in regards to cross- appeals. They stated that “there is only a cross- appeal if an appeal has been initiated.” Therefore, they said “it would be wrong to reason that because a respondent has had an employment tribunal decision for some time they should be bound by that strict approach to timing which applies to appeals”.
This is an important case as it establishes that the strict time limits in regard to appeals don’t apply to cross-appeals. This gives more freedom to responding parties and more time for them to collate their arguments. This is potentially beneficial to employers as well as employees as if an employer finds themselves in the position of having to make a cross appeal the time limits around it may be slightly more relaxed.