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Important Time Limits for your Employment Tribunal claim

Important Time Limits for your Employment Tribunal claim

In order to bring an Employment Tribunal claim you will need to enter into ACAS Early Conciliation within three months of your termination date and/or the last date when you believed you were discriminated.  If you do not enter into the Early Conciliation process within time, you will be denied the right to advance any claims.

This process essentially acts as a ‘stop the clock’ on the usual Tribunal time limit until the day that you receive an ACAS Early Conciliation Certificate confirming that the process has completed. 

Where Early Conciliation is not successful you will then have the right to present a claim usually within one calendar month, but this is dependent upon when you registered the claim with ACAS and the termination date and/or the last date when you believed you were discriminated.

In Stratford on Avon District Council v Hughes UKEAT/0163/20, the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that it was not justifiable for extending the time limit where the Claimant had waited for ACAS to send him the Early Conciliation Certificate which resulted in the expiry of the relevant limitation period.

How the initial claim progressed...

Timeline of events in Stratford on Avon District Council v Hughes

  • 29th March 2019 - the Claimant was dismissed

  • 25th June 2019 - the Claimant contacted ACAS

  • 2nd August 2019 - ACAS emails the Early Conciliation Certificate, however the Claimant did not receive this.

  • 2nd September 2019 - the limitation period expires

  • 4th September 2019 - ACAS resends the Certificate to the Claimant after he rang ACAS chasing this the day before, on 3rd September 2019

  • 5th September 2019 - the Claimant submits his claim, which was three days after time had expired


An Employment Tribunal had initially extended the time for the Claimant, on the basis that it had not been reasonably practicable for the Claimant to have presented his claim within time because he needed the ACAS Early Conciliation Certificate in order to lodge the claim.

However the matter went to the Employment Appeal Tribunal and (HHJ Shanks) found this was not correct as the actual “question was whether in all the circumstances it would have been reasonably practicable for the Claimant to have obtained the certificate earlier not whether he behaved reasonably in waiting until 3 September to contact ACAS.” Further, the “concept of ” reasonable practicability involves a heavier onus than just behaving reasonably, but is not to be equated with what is physically possible.”

Sejal Patel

Sejal Patel, Solicitor, Employment Law Team at Lawson-West Solicitors, Leicester comments: 

"This case provides a useful reminder about the importance of complying with Employment Tribunal’s strict time limits. In the above case, a delay of three days still meant the claim was out of time. Therefore it is essential to seek advice and assistance from the point you receive the certificate, or sooner to avoid any uncertainty."

If you find yourself in a situation and need to know more about employment law time limits, we can help. We offer no-obligation initial appointments. You can contact the team directly by calling 0116 212 1000 or complete our online contact form

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