ECJ employment ruling is a 'fudge'

Employment lawyers have described a decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to send a key unfair dismissal case back to the House of Lords a “fudge”.

Lawyers claim the decision to send the case back to the UK will hinder similar claims forms going through the courts.

The case centres on Nicole Seymour-Smith and Laura Perez, who claimed unfair dismissal by their respective employers, despite not fulfiling 1985 rule – requiring a two-year qualifying period. The women argued that the rule was indirectly discriminatory against women and contrary to European law, saying that fewer women than men fulfiled the two-year period.

The court ruled an award for unfair dismissal compensation constituted pay for the purposes of article 119 of the Treaty of Rome, which leaves the case open for consideration by the House of Lords.

Camden Law Centre, which represents Seymour-Smith, says that nearly 3,000 Employment Tribunal cases have been stayed, awaiting the ruling of the ECJ.

One employment solicitor says: “One suspects that the judges were unable to agree among themselves and it has now come out as a fudge.”

Beachcroft Stanleys head of employment Elizabeth Adams, says: “It is clogging up all of the cases in the system.”

Kitty Debenham, head of knowhow in the employment department at Simmons & Simmons, says: “The further delay is unfortunate for both employers and applicants with claims pending.”