Employment Law – Unfair Dismissal – Redundancy – Company in Administration – Three Months’ Time Limit For Tribunal Application


The case of Angel Biotechnology Ltd (In administration) v Taylor and Others [2007] involved employees determining whether their dismissal, when the employer went into administration, amounted to unfair dismissal or redundancy? The company in question had to lay off staff when it went into administration.

Twenty eight employees of the company brought proceedings for unfair dismissal on the grounds that there had been no proper consultation process prior to them being dismissed on the 20th of July 2007.

They therefore applied to the registrar to exercise his discretion under paragraph 43(6) of Schedule 1B of the Insolvency Act 1986. This discretion allows the registrar to grant them permission to bring such proceedings.

However, the administrator of the company objected to the registrar granting permission for the employees to do so.

The employees contended that if they were not granted permission they would lose the right to claim the three month time limit in the employment tribunal, as it was due to expire a number of days after the application.

The registrar granted permission. The registrar was of the opinion that the claims had merit and so the employees would be irretrievably prejudiced if the time limit was allowed to expire.

The administrator appealed against this decision.

The administrator argued that the employment tribunal had power to extend time, and therefore gave an undertaking that the company would not oppose an application under s.11(2)(b) of the Employment Rights Act 1996. Under s.11(2)(b), it was provided that an employee could present a petition outside the three month period if the tribunal was satisfied that it was not reasonably practicable for the complaint to be presented within the time limit.

Despite the undertaking, the appeal was dismissed.

It was decided that an undertaking by an administrator not to oppose an application under s.11(2)(b) could not bind the employment tribunal. The employment tribunal would still have to be satisfied that it had not been reasonably practicable for the complaint to be presented in time.

This meant that in this case, there were no grounds on which to interfere with the registrar's decision. He had therefore been perfectly entitled to take into account the risk that the employee's claims would be struck out were they not to be granted permission to bring proceedings for unfair dismissal.

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© RT COOPERS, 2008. This Briefing Note does not provide a comprehensive or complete statement of the law relating to the issues discussed nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight general issues. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to particular circumstances.


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