Further delay may pay dividends

WE WERE interested to read the piece "ECJ employment ruling is a 'fudge'" (The Lawyer, 15 February) concerning the recent decision of the European Court of Justice on Nicole Seymour-Smith's unfair dismissal claim.

While further delay is unhelpful to employers facing claims that have been stayed by the tribunals, there is a possible benefit to applicants that does not appear to have been noted.

Under the Employment Relations Bill now going through Parliament, the u12,000 limit on compensation for unfair dismissal is to be raised to u50,000. There does not appear to be anything in the Bill restricting this to dismissals that take effect after the new limit comes into force.

Applicants who lodge claims now may therefore find that by the time a tribunal deals with the complaint, it has the power to award a much greater sum of money than anticipated at the time of the dismissal.

The new limit will also apply to other unfair dismissal claims which are not heard until later this year. Employers should not be tempted to take procedural short-cuts now in the hope of avoiding the new rules.

Colin Troup and Paul Killen, Paisner & Co