Requirement for ACAS early Conciliation absolute and strict

11 May 2015

Can an employment tribunal hear a claim if the ACAS early conciliation requirements have not been met?

No, held the EAT in Cranwell v Cullen.

With thanks to Daniel Barnett’s employment law bulletin for the following case summary.

In this case the facts were simple. The Claimant put in a claim to an employment tribunal without previously complying with the requirement, in s.18A of the Employment Tribunals Act 1996, to supply prescribed information to ACAS. No statutory exemption from this requirement applied on the facts of the case. The Employment Judge rejected the claim on this ground. The EAT (Langstaff J) upheld that decision.

This was a sad case. If her allegations were true, the Claimant had been appallingly treated, including being sexually harassed. She may have thought ACAS conciliation meant having to talk to the person meting out the treatment. And she had an interdict (injunction) out against the employer.

But outside the permitted exemptions the Employment Judge had no choice. The requirement for ACAS early Conciliation was absolute and strict. There was nothing in the Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure that allowed discretion, even in a case which attracted the fullest sympathy of the Employment Judge and the President of the EAT