There are very strict time limits in the Workplace Relations Act 2015. This 42 days runs from the date of this conclusion. Under section 44(4), the Labour Court will give an extension of time for the appeal if it is satisfied there were unique circumstances.

The court set out its opinion with clarity on the question of what’s the exceptional circumstance in the case of Joyce Fitzsimons Markey – v- Gaelscoil Thulach na nÓg EED034. The court pointed out the most relevant extract from that determination in respect of the issue before the court has been the following:

“The term exceptional is an ordinary familiar English adjective rather than a term of art. It described a circumstance which is like to form an exception, which can be out of the ordinary course or unusual or uncommon or special. To be unique a circumstance needs not be unprecedented or unique or quite rare; but it cannot be one that is routine or routinely or normally struck”

The court held that the complainant’s debate didn’t come anywhere close to fulfilling this requirement. The court pointed out that, regrettably, stress as a result from dismissal is to be expected. The court stated that this does not supply an argument that could be deemed to justify or explain as an exceptional circumstance the decision of the complainant to not open the conclusion in the adjudication officer before after the 42-day appeal period expired.

The court pointed out that legal advice is not required to submit an appeal. The court pointed out that while it is acknowledged that a lay litigant could be unfamiliar with the legislation, the advice offered to parties whenever they get decisions from the Workplace Relations Commission make clear to themin a fashion that needs no legal practice, that there is a limit of 42 days in which to appeal, and even provides advice on what this appeal must pay.

The court pointed out that the appeal forms supplied by the court are intentionally structured to facilitate all prospective appellants, whether or not they are legally represented.

The court pointed out thatin any event, if a potential appellant decides that they need guidance before filing an appeal, the period of 42 days allowed for such an appeal is ample time. The court didn’t permit the appeal.

This is a helpful decision of the court in setting out matters. It is essential that a worker who believes that they are going to require legal advice gets that legal advice whenever possible. It is not a matter of phoning up a solicitor on the 40th day. It is a matter of making certain that, if you have not already been advised by a lawyer, which you get advice as soon as possible following the decision should you want to appeal. That enables the attorney to properly set the appeal documentation and to be sure that it gets in on time.

Even if someone cannot get to a solicitor and there’s just a short period of time left, the advice notes which come out with any decision, from the Workplace Relations, are extremely clear.

The issue of stress brought on by a dismissal is well-known. It is recognised. It’s legitimate. It does appear. On the other hand, the courts have held that such stress is normal anxiety and doesn’t cause a claim for a personal injury, and parties entering a process like an unfair dismissal have to understand that the procedure can be stressful. That is why it is imperative and important that people consider getting legal counsel at as early a stage as possible and preferably prior to, and we suggest nicely earlier, any claim goes on for hearing at the WRC.

Lay litigants are getting involved with litigation. The law regarding unfair dismissals is complicated. In any claim prior to the Workplace Relations Commission or the Labour Court, it is essential that an employee’s claim is set out properly and, for this reason, employees do require legal counsel. The same, obviously, applies to companies. Attempting to conduct a situation yourself, especially if the other side is represented, isn’t a good idea and it’s almost always better to get appropriate legal information accessible.

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