CASE REF: 376/04FET
CLAIMANT: Ronan Gabriel Deehan
RESPONDENT: Ministry of Defence
The decision of the Tribunal is that the application to the Fair Employment Tribunal was not presented within the appropriate time limit and in all the circumstances it is not just and equitable for the Fair Employment Tribunal to consider the complaint despite the fact that it is out of time. The claim of constructive dismissal was withdrawn at the outset of the hearing, and is dismissed.
Constitution of Tribunal:
Chairman: Ms W. A. Crooke (sitting alone)
The claimant was represented by Mr Henry, Barrister-at-Law, instructed by MacDermott & McGurk Solicitors.
The respondent was represented by Mr Coll, Barrister-at-Law, instructed by Crown Solicitor's Office.
Sources of Evidence
The Tribunal had an agreed booklet before it and heard evidence from the claimant on his own behalf.
The Facts Found
The Relevant Law and The Issue Arising Therefrom
"Was the application to the Fair Employment Tribunal presented within the appropriate time limit?"
"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 claimant could not give any coherent reason why he did not take steps to bring his claim in time or even more swiftly than the actual time periods within which he brought his claim. All the claimant could say was that it all added up and he was concentrating on getting out of the army before he turned his attention to bringing the claim. As he said, "It was a later stage before I considered this line of attack". He was not able to give evidence on when he first applied his mind to the issue of bringing proceedings.
The Tribunal has weighed up the balance of prejudice in this case before reaching its decision. In the particular circumstances of this case, the Tribunal considers that the balance of prejudice tilts in favour of the respondent. In many instances in this case the relevant paper work will already have been destroyed and this is due to the claimant failing to bring his claim in a timeous fashion. Effectively, the armed services will be left trying to defend the claim made by the claimant without the information available to it. If the claimant was capable to talking to his solicitor about part of his overall situation (ie his need not return to work as he feared that it would cause him to self harm or that he would be 'got',) the Tribunal does not see why he could not take steps to bring his claim to the Tribunal if not within the three month time limit, then considerably closer to expiration of the time limit than the time at which he eventually achieved lodgement of his claim. It is hard for the Tribunal to avoid the conclusion that the claimant simply did not bother to bring his claim in time. For all these reasons, the Tribunal considered it would not be just and equitable for the time limit in this case to be extended to encompass a date of lodgement that was 15 months after the date of the alleged act of discrimination.
Date and place of hearing: 19 October 2006, Belfast.
Date decision recorded in register and issued to parties: