Workplace Report June 2007

Law - Tribunal procedures

Postponed hearings

Case 6: The facts

Mr Cook was successful in his claim for unfair dismissal on grounds of whistleblowing and was awarded compensation of £6,764, which included an additional element because his employer had not followed the statutory procedures.

The issue on appeal concerned whether the tribunal hearing should have gone ahead in the absence of the employer's representative, who was a director of the company. The director had made various applications for postponement on grounds of ill health: earlier ones had been granted but the last one, made the day before the hearing, had been rejected because the director had failed to provide any medical evidence that he was unfit to attend a hearing. (He had produced evidence only that he was unfit to attend his workplace.)

The ruling

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) confirmed that the tribunal had been correct to distinguish between a doctor's certificate that says a person is unfit to go to work and one that addresses whether s/he can attend a tribunal. The tribunal had been entitled, the EAT said, to find that there was no valid reason to put off Cook's hearing for a third time.

Noting also that the employer had not complied with the tribunal's orders in preparation for the case, the EAT dismissed the employer's appeal.

Snowy's Ltd t/a Snowy's Autobody Repair Specialists v Cook EAT/0595/06