CASE REF: 214/03FET
APPLICANT: Paul Girvan
RESPONDENT: Queen's University of Belfast
The unanimous decision of the Tribunal is that all the applications were submitted outside the relevant time limit. The tribunal found that it is just and equitable to extend the time limit for presenting cases numbered 214/03FET and 41/04FET and these are admitted for hearing. The tribunal found that it is not just and equitable to extend the time limit for presenting case reference 252/03FET and it is dismissed.
The applicant was represented by Mr Bowers of Belfast Unemployed Resource Centre.
The respondent was represented by Mr Walls Solicitor of L'Estrange & Brett.
"Was the application presented within the specified time limit and if not, is it just and equitable in all the circumstances of the case, for the Fair Employment Tribunal to consider the complaint despite the fact that it is out of time"?
The applicant presented three applications to be considered at this hearing. The tribunal considered each of these applications separately.
This claim related to two applications for the post of Lecturer in Film Studies with the respondent. The applicant was rejected at short-listing in September 2002 and October 2002. The originating application dealing with both of these claims was lodged on 13 May 2003. The applications were therefore significantly out of time. The tribunal had to decide whether it is just and equitable in all the circumstances of the case to extend the time limit for presenting these claims. After his rejection for these posts and others which are not the subject of today's hearing, the applicant wrote to the respondent requesting a feedback as to why he had not been short-listed for these posts. The applicant's case to the tribunal was that it was not until he read the final paragraph of this letter which was dated 6 February 2003 that he became aware of the possibility that he had been discriminated against. The applicant argued that he had the relevant qualifications, which the respondent stated in this letter that he had not. The applicant also argued that this letter was sent to the wrong address and that he did not receive it until some time later. The applicant gave evidence that he had never been involved in tribunal cases before and received no help from his trade union. The applicant stated that he was aware of the time limit through guidance, which he received from the Equality Commission on 6 May 2003. The applicant gave evidence that he understood that once he had obtained this guidance from the Equality Commission, that the time no longer ran for submitting his claims to the tribunal. The Equality Commission sent application forms to him and these were completed by him and lodged on 13 May 2003.
The tribunal considered this application which was in relation to a post in April 2002 again involving a lectureship in film studies. The applicant was rejected from short-listing in June 2002 and his application to the tribunal was submitted on 13 May 2003 at the same time as application number 214/03FET. The applicant's arguments relating to this case were the same as those presented in relation to 214/03FET. The feedback letter of 6 February 2003 also related to this application. The tribunal accepted that this case was substantially the same as 214/03FET in that the applicant did not realise that he had a cause of action until he received the feedback letter and was unaware of the time limits until he received guidance from the Equality Commission at which time he proceeded to present his claim. The tribunal therefore decided that in the circumstances as outlined above it was appropriate that the time for presenting of the claim should be extended.
In February 2003 the applicant applied for a lectureship in Political Theory. The applicant was informed by letter dated 18 February 2003 that he had not been short-listed. The application was lodged in the tribunal on 18 June 2003. The application was therefore approximately one month outside the time limit. The tribunal considered the arguments raised on the applicant's behalf. In the other cases we accepted that the applicant acted promptly upon receipt of advice from the Equality Commission. However, in this case the applicant waited until 18 June 2003 to lodge his application. His argument was that it took some time to prepare the forms, which included five claims at that time. The applicant argued that he thought that the time limit stopped once he had contacted the Equality Commission and that is why he took his time in preparing this application form. The tribunal accepted the applicant's evidence in relation to the delays and confusion regarding applications 214/03FET and 41/04FET but did not accept that the period of delay after the applicant had received advice from the Equality Commission in this case was sustainable. The applicant's application was not completed in a complex way and could easily have been submitted at an earlier date by the applicant. The tribunal were of the view that the applicant in this case was aware of the tribunal procedure having already submitted several applications, and there was no valid reason to explain why this application was not submitted at an earlier date. Therefore, although the arguments in relation to 214/03FET and 41/04FET are accepted by the tribunal in this case the arguments because of the ongoing passage of time are not accepted. The tribunal do not consider that this is the case where it is just and equitable for the tribunal to extend the time limit for presenting the application and the applicant has not convinced us that it would be appropriate to do so. Case number 252/03FET is therefore dismissed.
Date and place of hearing: 23 February 2004, Belfast.
Date decision recorded in register and issued to parties: