Is an Employment Judge allowed to bring a claim to an end, because they consider it would be better for the Claimant’s health and well-being if it stopped? No, held the Employment Appeal tribunal in Mukoro v Independent Workers’ Union Of Great Britain. In this claim the Trades Union is the employer, which must be a novelty for them.
The Claimant, Nancy Mukoro, did not turn up to a September 2018 hearing because she had a painful tooth abscess and was in the dentist’s chair. Messages to Judge Snelson to say why she was absent were undelivered. He decided to end the claim altogether. It had gone on a long time already, Nancy had serious anxiety, depression and panic attacks, and her Doctor had written to say how badly the case affected her. The claim had already been a long and difficult road. Judge Snelson decided that enough was enough and part of his reason was that it would be better for Nancy (and maybe he thought so for everyone else too) to call it a day. It was a cruel to be kind sort of decision. It would be a relief to almost everyone – but not it seems to Nancy, as she appealed against the Judge’s decision. She won her appeal.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled on 24 March 2021 that the claim must continue. It is up to Claimants to decide whether they wish to continue with the stress of their claim, not for Judges to decide what is good for them. An adjournment of the missed hearing had to be granted and the strike out lifted, since not to do so would amount to a denial of justice. The claim can now carry on, even though the disputed dismissal was back in November 2016! Interestingly, even the Judges seem to acknowledge how deeply stressful bringing a claim can be. Such stress and lack progress is greatly helped by the support and expertise of a good lawyer, sadly beyond the means of the Claimant in this case.