Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

This post examines the recent Employment Appeal Tribunal decision in Pye v Queen Mary University of London, which concerns the discretion of the Employment Tribunal in deciding to adjourn or stay proceedings in the event that the Claimant is indisposed to attend a Hearing.

The facts in Pye v Queen Mary University of London

Dr Pye (“the Appellant” or “the Claimant”) had submitted a claim to the Employment Tribunal as to the way he had been dealt with by Queen Mary University of London had caused him to suffer from stress, and that this stress had caused him to become ill. He therefore submitted employment law claims for unfair dismissal (including automatic unfair dismissal), direct discrimination, harassment, whistleblowing, victimisation, and wrongful dismissal (among others). The Hearing was listed for 30 days and was due to commence on 8 February 2011.

On 14 January 2011 the Claimant obtained a medical report from a consultant psychiatrist stating that the Claimant was not fit to attend the Hearing and plead his case. The medical report further stated that there was a reasonable prospect of the Claimant’s recovery from stress after three months. This appears (as some cases are) to have been a relatively acrimonious case and when the Claimant submitted his application notice to postpone the Hearing he neglected to copy the application or the medical report to the Respondent. He only addressed such material to the Employment Tribunal. The Employment Tribunal, further to the relevant employment law rules, refused to hear the Claimant’s application as the Respondent would be prejudiced by this. After a period the Claimant submitted a second medical report on the 2nd February 2011. He failed, however, to send the second medical report to the Respondent and sent only the application to postpone the Hearing to the Respondent. The Employment Tribunal again refused the Claimant’s application. The Claimant therefore attempted on 7 February 2011, the day before the Hearing, to postpone the Hearing for the third time. It appears at this point that the Claimant had disclosed at least some of the relevant medical evidence to the Respondent. The Employment Judge dealing with the application again rejected the request for the postponement, notwithstanding the strong recommendation of the consultant psychologist that the Claimant was not fit to attend a Hearing. The Hearing went ahead and the Claimant was unrepresented. Dr Pye therefore appealed.

The law relating to procedure and postponements

The power to adjourn proceedings comes under rule 10 of the Employment Tribunal Rules 2004. Under such rules the Employment Tribunal has the discretion to adjourn a Hearing if a party or their representative does not attend. This discretion must be exercised with regard to reason, relevance and fairness. If a litigant cannot attend an Hearing through no fault of his own then the Employment Tribunal must grant an adjournment (Teinaz v London Borough of Wandsworth). In cases of medical indisposition to attend a hearing, the Tribunal must have reference to the nature of the medical report or certificate that has been provided to them, and in particular the wording of such medical evidence. It was noted in Teinaz that the wording of the medical evidence should state that the Claimant is unfit to attend the Hearing and that a prognosis should be provided.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal’s decision in Pye v Queen Mary University of London

The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the appeal. The Employment Tribunal had failed to deal with the matter fairly as it had not taken into sufficient consideration the medical evidence supplied by the consultant psychiatrist, particularly the possibility of the Claimant’s recovery within a 3-month time period. The case was therefore remitted to the Tribunal.

Our thoughts on Pye v Queen Mary University of London

This case offers some useful employment law guidelines on how Claimants (and Respondents) can seek to postpone a Hearing and the guidelines that they should follow should they wish to do so. In cases of medical inability to attend a Hearing a party must:

  • Obtain medical evidence of their incapacity from an appropriate person
  • Ensure that the medical evidence (if favourable) contains the assertion that they are unfit to plead their case and give a reasonable prognosis for recovery
  • Supply the medical evidence to the Tribunal within a reasonable time frame – the shorter the time, the less likely that the Tribunal will grant an adjournment
  • Supply the medical evidence and application to the Respondent, in accordance with the relevant procedural rules

About Chris Hadrill

Chris is a specialist employment lawyer at Redmans. He specialises in contentious and non-contentious employment matters, including breach of contract claims, compromise agreements and Employment Tribunal cases. He writes on employment law matters on a variety of websites, including Direct 2 Lawyers, Lawontheweb.co.uk, LegalVoice, the Justice Gap and his own blog. Contact Chris by emailing him at chadrill@redmans.co.uk

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

Our awards

Request a callback

Your name

Your email

Your telephone number

Contact us

Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

T: 020 3397 3603
E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
W: www.redmans.co.uk

Testimonials

4.72 Average

88 Reviews

Anonymous

Responsive, patient, thorough and personable - an excellent service.

Posted 1 day ago

Anonymous

The team at Redmans, Chris Hadrill and Sacha Barrett were always very helpful and had expert knowledge to assist me during my employment law matter, I would not hesitate to recommend them to all!

Posted 2 days ago

Arun T

Chris was punctual, attentive and accurate. He answered my questions with clarity and avoided dubiosity. I would recommend him to anyone seeking legal advice within his remit.

Posted 3 days ago

Yulian Z

Great service

Posted 3 days ago

Anonymous

Excellent, professional service and a speedy resolution. Many thanks

Posted 3 days ago

Taral P

Sacha and Chris were both very helpful in closing out my matter. Sacha was very clear in helping me understanding the documents I needed reviewing, providing a professional service throughout.

Posted 3 days ago

Anonymous

Really pleased with the swift and professional service from Redmans. They provided very clear advice and helped conclude my matter with the minimum of stress or delay.

Posted 3 days ago

Matthew L

Redmans were very quick to respond to my initial enquiry, and provided me with a very effective and efficient service, generating a most satisfactory outcome. I would definitely use them again if the need arose.

Posted 3 days ago

Anonymous

First rate service. Warm and friendly whilst exceptionally efficient at the same time. I would highly recommend them.

Posted 3 days ago

Anonymous

Professional and helpful. Thorough and supportive.

Posted 3 days ago

Richard A

Excellent service, prompt replies, great advice

Posted 4 days ago

Anonymous

Very professional services

Posted 4 days ago

Margaret

Redmans Solicitors took a lot of the worry away and were very thoughtful and meticulous in their dealings with my case , thank you very mush , great service and a great job

Posted 1 month ago

Mark B

Prompt efficient service. Hourly, and part thereof, billing got a bit stressful at times - as opposed to flat fee - made me think twice about sending an email or making a quick call when I had a query because it would have eaten up minutes from my budget. But happy with the legal service I received overall and would recommend.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Chris Hadrill has provided a truly wonderful service and was willing to lend his support and expertise at a time when other solicitors, only wanted to discuss their fees! A clear thinking and down to earth professional, Chris can be trusted to listen carefully to your matter, cut through the fog, and advise you on the best (and most realistic) way forward, saving you time, money and heartache. It will be helpful if you first get your ducks in a row in terms of documents / evidence etc. and then contact Chris, (that’s what we did) as this will help your matter to be dealt with faster. The more organised and together you are the more successful you will be. You'll be fine with Chris, I highly recommend him. Good luck!

Posted 1 month ago

Richard v

Excellent Service

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Very happy from service received. Highly recommend

Posted 1 month ago

Colin W

Very professional and thorough. Sachs who dealt with the bulk of my case was excellent Thank you. .

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

I was generally impressed with the fast turn around, efficiency, responsiveness, and consideration of circumstances. I needed a couple of areas of advice quickly and with Redmans help was able to get to a conclusion quickly and with minimum stress. They were friendly and professional throughout - I'd use them again.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

The guidance and assistance I recently received when using Redman's was fantastic. Caroline & Chris were both very informative and understanding walking me through each step. Thank you.

Posted 2 months ago

Nicola W

Fantastic service, very quick and efficient. Thank you

Posted 2 months ago