‘3 heads are better than 1’ – the EAT agrees


Geere v Worcester Citizens Advice Bureau and others (UKEAT/-114/13/RN)

Sally Cowen was working on behalf of the Bar Pro Bono Unit last week, to help a former solicitor whose claim had been struck out in the Employment Tribunal.

The Appellant had asked the Employment Tribunal to sit as a full panel of 3 people. He had also told them that he would not attend the Pre-hearing Review, but would make written representations.  The Employment Tribunal acknowledged this and agreed to do so. This letter was sent to all parties. On the day of the Pre-hearing Review an Employment Judge sitting alone heard the case (the same Employment Judge who had written the letter)and dismissed all the claims. The Respondent’s solicitor attended the hearing but did not point out the change of plan. The Employment Appeals Tribunal held, that the lack of panel of 3 was a ‘fundamental error’ and accept that a panel of 3 should have sat, as a matter of law.

The costs awards were also overturned on the basis that the explanation of the Employment Judge as to the costs award were insufficient. In fact the Employment Judge ordered substantially more in costs than was stated by the party to be the costs incurred.