A solicitor claiming for unfair dismissal against the Crown Prosecution Service has been told she was too late in bringing her case.
The claimant, identified as Miss S Dillon, presented her claim to the employment tribunal in February, more than five months after the effective termination of her employment.
Applying to the Midlands West tribunal for an exemption to the usual three-month time limit, the 63-year-old solicitor submitted it was not reasonably practicable for her to present her claim any earlier. Among her arguments were that she thought the deadline for an employment claim was three years as that was the limitation period for personal injury claim.
But Employment Judge Woffenden dismissed the application and therefore her claim, saying she was expected to apply her experience and contacts to check the time limit.
The tribunal heard that Dillon, who had been a specialist prosecutor since 2003, resigned from her employment in August 2019, having been absent through ill health for around eight months. She reported she was experiencing symptoms of stress at work and raised a grievance through solicitors during her absence.
On the basis of professional advice to get out more and distract herself, Dillon visited her son in Barcelona for a week before holding a two-hour meeting a few weeks later with a grievance investigator. Following the meeting, she received the outcome of her grievance and was dissatisfied with that outcome, and requested to see a copy of the investigator’s report. The tribunal heard she had ‘naively’ believed that the CPS would offer to reinstate her because she was a good prosecutor.
Woffenden concluded there was no evidence of any change in Dillon’s condition during the primary three-month limitation period. She had previously been able to instruct solicitors, make travel arrangements to visit Spain, conduct the two-hour meeting and pursue disclosure of the investigator’s report.
The judge added: ‘Although she was undoubtedly unwell and had been unwell for a long time, her ill health was not such that it was not reasonably practicable for her to present her claim within time.’
Woffenden said Dillon was not hoping to avoid litigation by pursuing alternative remedies, but instead had simply not given litigation any thought. She left it too late to present her claim and so it was dismissed.