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Appeal against a refusal to extend time for a Notice of Appeal which was lodged 17 days late. Appeal dismissed.
The claimant lodged her ET1 with the Tribunal but it was returned because the ET could not tell what claims she was making. The claimant appealed against this decision but her appeal was 17 days late and the Registrar refused to extend time.
The EAT rejected the appeal. The Registrar was correct not to exercise discretion. Looking at the matter entirely afresh in the light of the material put before the EAT, the rules were clear; the claimant knew them, because she was an experienced litigator, and failed to carry out the simple rules.
Appeal No. UKEATPA/0775/11/SM
EMPLOYMENT APPEAL TRIBUNAL
FLEETBANK HOUSE, 2-6 SALISBURY SQUARE, LONDON EC4Y 8JX
At the Tribunal
On 17 April 2012
HIS HONOUR JUDGE McMULLEN QC (SITTING ALONE)
MS M POPA (APPELLANT)
(1) PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS LLP; (2) CREDIT SUISSE SECURITIES (EUROPE) LTD; (3) UNION BANK OF SWITZERLAND AG (RESPONDENTS)
Transcript of Proceedings
APPEAL FROM REGISTRAR'S ORDER
For the Appellant
For the Second Respondent
MR RUSSELL BRIMELOW (Solicitor)
Lewis Silkin LLP
5 Chancery Lane
For the First and Third Respondents
No appearance or representation by or on behalf of the First or Third Respondents
PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE – Time for appealing
There was no basis for allowing an extension of 17 days to register a Notice of Appeal.
HIS HONOUR JUDGE McMULLEN QC
1. This is an appeal from the decision of the Registrar given on 23 November 2011 not to allow the registration of a Notice of Appeal. I will refer to the parties as the Claimant and the Respondents, who are PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP; Credit Suisse Ltd, represented by Lewis Silkin, who attend today in the form of Mr Russell Brimelow and have made some written submissions; and UBS AG, who are represented in writing by Berwin Leighton Paisner.
2. The appeal itself is an appeal by the Claimant in those would be proceedings against a decision of Employment Judge Laidler, who decided on 29 March 2011 that the administration of the ET, having received a claim form from the Claimant, would return it, "as it is not clear what claims with [sic] the jurisdiction of the Employment Tribunal you are making". The Claimant objected to that and made an appeal; the appeal was 17 days out of time, according to the Registrar. She considered submissions from the parties and decided not to exercise discretion. The Claimant appeals against that. An appeal against the Registrar is to a single Judge; here I make my own decision. This is a hearing.
3. The relevant provisions of law and practice are set out in my Judgment in Muschett v London Borough of Hounslow  ICR 424. Since then, the Court of Appeal has decided Jurkowska v Hlmad Ltd  EWCA Civ 231, and, for further reference, please see my Judgments in Westmoreland v Renault UK Ltd UKEATPA/1571/08, and in Harper v Hopkins  EWCA Civ 1246, where the Court of Appeal approved my approach to Registrar appeals. The Court of Appeal in Miller v Lambeth Primary Care Trust  EWCA Civ 722, approved my account of the difficulties faced by the EAT by those Appellants, of whom there are hundreds, who fail to take the most elementary steps to lodge an appeal. Further, the Court of appeal has approved my approach in Zinda v The Governing Body of Barn Hill Community High and Ors  EWCA Civ 690.
Procedural background and the appeal
4. The Registrar said the appeal was 17 days out of time; there is no dispute about that. The Claimant is in Romania; she declines to come. She herself acknowledges that this is an oral hearing, and she is making, as she is entitled to do, written submissions. I conduct a hearing on the basis of the material that is before me, and as is clear from Muschett, frequently live evidence is adduced. Today the Claimant has produced, in addition to her 50 page Notice of Appeal, a 10 page submission, which I have read most carefully. The Practice Direction and the Rules together require all the documents to be served within time.
5. The Registrar decided that she would not exercise discretion in the Claimant's favour, and she said this:
"The appellant applies for an extension of time in which to appeal a refusal to accept a claim in the employment tribunal promulgated on the 26th March 2011. The final date for appeal was the 10th May 2011. The appeal was received on the 27th May 2011. The appellant claims that she sent an email to the EAT stating that she wished to appeal this decision. She did send an email at some stage on the 10th May stating that she intended to appeal and that she would send one on the 12th May 2011. She was advised of Paragraph 3.5 of the EAT Practice Direction 2008 on the 11th May. In any event, no right to appeal may be reserved. An appeal is either in time or it is not. […]
Many appellants act for themselves without legal advice yet they manage to file their appeals in time. The appellant was familiar with the process and had access to the internet, her preferred method of communication, so it is irrelevant whether she was in Romania or the UK. It is also irrelevant that she suffered intermittent computer failure as access to the internet can be gained on other computers. There is no evidence of a large scale conspiracy involving many parties including the Royal Family to defraud the appellant. Although the appellant claims to be disabled, she does not specify the form of her disability and it does not seem to prevent her from engaging in multiple strands of litigation in many courts including the Court of Appeal. In this instance she has attempted to make claims against parties who have never been her employer. It is clear from the appellant's frequent correspondence and the allegations contained therein that she has no realistic grasp of the employment tribunal's remit."
6. She then cited the Judgment of Rimer LJ in Jurkowska, who said this:
"Litigants are not entitled to expect rules of practice to be re written so as to accommodate their own negligence, idleness or incompetence."
7. The Registrar dealt with the issues, which are the same as those before me, as to exercising discretion in the Claimant's favour. The Registrar decided the matters set out above did not excuse the lateness. The Claimant is most exercised about the use of that phrase from Rimer LJ. I have some sympathy with her, because this case is not the result of negligence, idleness or incompetence and the use of that phrase has caused grave offence to the Claimant. She says the Registrar has treated her in an appalling and despicable manner in this rejection letter. The Registrar was, however, applying the leading authority.
8. The Claimant acknowledges in her written material to me that the Registrar has considered the issues that were put before her: the Claimant's relocation to Romania, computer breakdowns, and, now, sabotaging events in the Claimant's life. These include a neighbour jumping out of a window and causing the Claimant to consider suicide. These are the main points of the argument. With respect, they come nowhere near an excuse for failing to lodge the Notice of Appeal in time. The Claimant is verbose and carries on unremitting correspondence with the various jurisdictions with which she is engaged. An account of her original foray into the Tribunal system is given by Employment Judge Laidler in her Judgment sent to the parties on 20 May 2010 striking out the Claimant's claims.
9. In short, I have done what the Claimant has asked me to do. She has extensively cited the authorities that are in the Registrar's Judgment. She has appealed for leniency, indicating what she thinks is more leniency in the Court of Appeal than in the EAT, and points out that she is self-represented. I bear all that in mind, and her view that what is going on here is a masquerade.
10. As she says in paragraph 19 of her submission, the EAT is concerned with the reasons for which an extension of time should be allowed. There then follows what I can only describe as gibberish. I can translate the Latin, and get the gist of the Romanian, but the content of the English immediately following this is an account of what I divine to be the Claimant's willingness to marry Prince William or Prince Harry, citing a claim for compensation, from Buckingham Palace, or it may be from UBS – the matter is not clear to me – for $3 billion.
11. I have not gained much assistance from the remainder of this ten page submission. The Registrar, in my judgment, was correct not to exercise discretion. I have looked at the matter entirely afresh in the light of the material put before me, but the rules are clear; the Claimant knows them, because she is an experienced litigator, and failed to carry out the simple rules.
12. In their responses to this appeal Credit Suisse and UBS have asked me to look at the merits of the case; so does the Claimant. It is unusual to do so, but in a case which has no merit at all, there is no point in breathing life into it (see the Judgment of Sir Christopher Staughton in Aziz v Bethnal Green City Challenge Co Ltd  IRLR 111). The issue in this case is whether the Judge was correct to refuse to accept – that is, to allow her to the seat of justice – the claim that the Claimant made, because it was not clear. I do not form the view that the appeal has no merit at all. It has to be borne in mind that there has been no consideration of issues in the case – essentially "acceptance" is an administrative act carried out by a Judge. Judge Laidler decided that the claim was not clear, and the Claimant is right to point out there are no reasons for this.
13. However, a cursory look at the claim indicates to me that the Claimant was making claims of disability discrimination at least arising in the course of employment. True it is there is a good deal of unnecessary, irrelevant and confusing material, but I do not consider it can be said, as the Respondents urge me to decide, that there is no merit whatsoever in the Claimant's claim. That means that I resort to the usual position on appeals, which is to assume that the appeal itself has some merit. So in a sense I accept the Claimant's case that this was an appeal that could not be thrown out on the grounds that it had no merit. I make no decision on the basis of Sir Christopher Staughton's invitation.
14. I would like to thank very much Mr Brimelow for coming. The appeal is dismissed.