When is a mistake a minor mistake?
Well, it seems that judicial opinion is divided.
In two Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) cases, two conflicting decisions were reached on what were very similar facts. In Giny v SNA Transport Ltd and Chard v Trowbridge Office Cleaning Services Ltd both employees sought to bring tribunal claims. They had, while unrepresented, given Acas the name of a director within their employer organisation rather than the company name as the respondent. This led to the Early Conciliation certificates being issued in the wrong names. And when lawyers later sought to bring the claims in the correct (company) names, the tribunals refused because the names didn’t match those on the Acas certificates.
In Mr Giny’s case, the EAT held that the tribunal was entitled to have rejected his claim. Although there was considerable sympathy for Mr Giny, it wasn’t a minor mistake to confuse an individual and a company and his claim could not proceed.
But in Ms Chard’s case, the EAT held that the misnaming was a minor error. No prejudice was caused to the other side, and it was in the interests of justice to allow Ms Chard to bring her claim.
So where does this leave arguments about mistakes in the paperwork? A little bit up in the air. Ultimately, it will be for tribunals to decide whether or not a claim should be allowed to proceed where there has been some sort of defect, however minor it might appear to be.