Gemma Roberts represented the successful Respondent before the Court of Appeal in Adedeji v University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust [2021] EWCA 21.

The case concerned an application by Mr Adedeji, a consultant colorectal surgeon, to extend time limits for the presentation of his claims for race discrimination and constructive unfair dismissal where his claim had been submitted 3 days late, following a misunderstanding of the Early Conciliation requirements.

The Court of Appeal’s decision provides important guidance on the exercise of the ‘just and equitable’ discretion in cases where the delay in presentation was only short. Their Lordships reiterated that the ET should consider all those factors which are relevant to the exercise of the discretion and should not adhere rigidly to the factors listed in s33 Limitation Act 1980 (so called ‘Keeble factors’). The Court of Appeal also held that it was appropriate to consider whether the cogency of evidence pertaining to historical complaints that were relied upon as part of a continuing series had been affected, notwithstanding that the delay in presentation was insubstantial. The Court also re-emphasised that time limits in the employment tribunal are to be applied strictly.

Gemma had also acted in the Employment Tribunal, where the Judge refused to grant an extension of time to Mr Adedeji, finding that it had been ‘reasonably practicable’ for the unfair dismissal claim to have been presented in time, and that it was not ‘just and equitable’ to extend time for the discrimination complaint. The latter finding was considered by Kerr J in the Employment Appeal Tribunal. Gemma again acted successfully for the Respondent; Kerr J dismissed the Appeal and upheld the Employment Judge’s findings. The EAT’s Judgment is available here.