FAIR EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL
CASE REFS: 7/15 FET
CLAIMANT: John Francis Forrest
RESPONDENT: Laverty Properties Limited
DECISION ON A PRE-HEARING REVIEW
The decision of the Tribunal is that:-
(i) I decline to make an Order striking-out the respondent company’s response.
(ii) I make an ‘Unless Order’ in the terms set out at Paragraph 5(ii) below.
Constitution of Tribunal:
Employment Judge (sitting alone): Employment Judge Buchanan
The claimant was represented by Mr R Cushley, Barrister-at-Law, instructed by Stelfox, Solicitors.
The respondent was represented by Mr P Laverty, a director, of the respondent company.
1 This matter was listed for a pre-hearing review to consider the following issues:-
“Whether the respondent’s response should be struck-out on the grounds that:-
(a) the respondent has conducted these proceedings in an unreasonable manner;
(b) the respondent has not complied with Orders or directions of the Tribunal; and
(c) the respondent has not provided a medical report, as directed.”
2(i) Mr Laverty, a director of the respondent company, appeared at the hearing. He had not attended the previous Case Management Discussions on 5 May 2015, 29 July 2015, 3 September 2015 and 18 November 2015.
(ii) There is no doubt that the respondent company was made aware at previous Case Management Discussions of the importance of complying with Orders of the Tribunal, and the potential consequences of failing to comply.
(iii) Despite that, its engagement with the Tribunal and the claimant’s solicitors was minimal, and any such engagement was somewhat dismissive and offhand.
3 I accept, however, as did the claimant’s counsel, that Mr Laverty has been seriously ill. Notwithstanding that, I do have some suspicion that the respondent company may be deliberately trying to drag this matter out. I made it clear to Mr Laverty that if this is the case, it will not be tolerated.
4 Striking-out a response is a drastic remedy. Here, notwithstanding the clear default of the respondent company, I am not prepared to go down that road at this stage. I am satisfied that a fair trial is still possible, and as stated above, I accept that Mr Laverty’s illness was both genuine and serious, albeit that I think the present unsatisfactory situation is largely of his own making.
5(i) I now make an ‘Unless Order’ in the terms set out at Sub-paragraph (ii) below.
I explained the consequences of failure to comply with that Order to Mr Laverty. In view of the fact that he has told me, and I now record, that he will be fit to take part in Tribunal proceedings from mid-January 2016, I have made no direction in relation to medical evidence, and have therefore confined the terms of the ‘Unless Order’ to the failure to provide additional information and discovery.
(ii) TAKE NOTICE THAT UNLESS the respondent company complies with the Orders for Additional Information and Discovery and Inspection, both dated 19 May 2015, by 4 January 2016 its response to the Tribunal will be struck-out for failure to comply with the said Orders.
Copies of the Notices for Additional Information and Discovery are attached.
Date and place of hearing: 7 December 2015, Belfast
Date decision recorded in register and issued to parties: