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Slingsby v Griffith Smith Solicitors

Date: February 10, 2009

Expertise: Employment

TIME FOR LODGING RESPONDENT’S ANSWER/CROSS-APPEAL

CASE NOTE

The EAT has today handed down judgment in Slingsby v Griffith Smith Solicitors UKEAT/0619/07/MAA in relation to an appeal against the Registrar’s decision to grant the Respondent an extension of time for filing their Answer and Cross-Appeal.

The Respondent’s Answer, which included a Cross-Appeal, was lodged at the EAT one day late. The Registrar granted an extension of time to cover the late filing of the Answer and Cross-Appeal on the basis that the EAT takes a more liberal view in relation to time limits imposed upon respondents who wish to cross appeal than in relation to the institution of initial appeals.

It is well-established that the 42-day time limit for instituting appeals is strictly applied: see guidance contained in Abdelghafar [1995] ICR 65, Aziz [2000] IRLR 111 and Jurkowska [2008] IRLR 430.

However, there is no clear previous reported authority on whether the same principles relevant to the extension of time for appealing should be applied with equal strictness to respondents where an extension of time for lodging an Answer is sought.

Although HH Judge Burke QC concluded that the strict Abdelghafar principles do not apply to the grant of an extension of time for the delivery of an Answer, yet he concluded that they did apply to the Cross-Appeal. That is not to say that the time for delivery of an Answer should be extended lightly or as a matter of routine; general discretionary principles apply, including the need to consider the length of any delay and the existence and nature of any prejudice to the other party.

Consequently, the outcome of the appeal was that the Answer, lodged one day out of time, was permitted to stand; but the Cross-Appeal was not. This decision now provides clear authority for applying the same strict principles to an extension of time for lodging a cross-appeal as to extending time for instituting appeals.

Daniel Matovu of 2 Temple Gardens, instructed by Martin Searle Solicitors, appeared for the successful appellant.

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