The EAT has decided that the email address provided by a Claimant on an Early Conciliation (“EC”) form must be valid for the time limit for bringing proceedings to recommence.
Under the ACAS EC Rules, if the Claimant has included an email address in the EC form lodged with ACAS, the EC Certificate will be sent to that email address. The time limit for bringing the relevant claim is suspended during this EC period. Once the certificate has been received, the time limit for the claim will resume.
In the recent case of Galloway v Wood Group UK, the Claimant provided an email address that was unintentionally missing a character. The EC Certificate was therefore not received, and the claim was out of time when the Claimant finally became aware that an error had been made.
The EAT held that an email address provided must be a valid email address which is registered to a user. Therefore, if an EC form is lodged with an invalid email address the effect will be that the time period for bringing a claim will remain suspended.
It is important to note that the Judge’s view in this case was that the email address had to be an invalid one for the time limit to be suspended. If the email address entered had merely been incorrect but valid then the time limit would have recommenced. For example, if the email address had been valid and therefore sent to another person then the time limit would have resumed, and the deadline would have passed subject to any statutory discretion to extend time.
The case highlights the importance of Claimants providing ACAS with their correct email address on the EC form. The decision does provide a small safety net if an invalid email address is provided however, with billions of registered email accounts out there, it’s likely to be down to pure chance as to whether an invalid email address has been provided and the time limit for bringing the claim remains suspended or whether just an incorrect address was provided and consequently that the claim is now out of time.