Springhouse Solicitors

Early conciliation: only 1 allowed

We report on a case where the Claimant started the early conciliation process twice. Although the second early conciliation would have put their claim within the valid timeframe, it did not count. The claim was therefore out of time.

Background

ACAS early conciliation operates to extend the time limit for bringing a claim, usually by by up to a month. It is now clear that second early conciliation proceedings cannot be started to further extend the time limit or for any other reason.

This case also decides an important point on which there had previously been conflicting decisions. The extension of time given by early conciliation will not apply before the normal point at which time would start running to bring a claim.

So, for an unfair dismissal claim, for instance, where there has been early conciliation before the dismissal, the period of early conciliation before the dismissal will be subtracted from the 1 month extension. This will sometimes mean that the early conciliation period does not extend the normal 3 month time limit at all, as was the case here.