Early conciliation – one reference number or more…
In the case of Clark and ors v Sainsburys Supermarkets Ltd and anor, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) confirmed that the Early Conciliation number put on the tribunal claim form only needs to refer to one of the claimants in a multi-claimant claim.
Claimants are required to commence Acas early conciliation prior to their limitation date and lodging their claim in the tribunal. If conciliation is unsuccessful or an individual confirms they do not want to conciliate, a certificate will be issued with an EC reference number.
In this case, the multiple individuals were pursuing claims for equal pay. All individuals had commenced Acas Early Conciliation in time and prior to submitting their claim.
The tribunal accepted all claims which included an EC number on the claim form that appeared on an EC certificate in which the name of the claimant also appeared. But the tribunal rejected claims from claimants whose names appeared on an EC certificate and the claim form but the EC number was different i.e., the claimant’s name was not included on the EC certificate.
The claimants whose claims were not accepted appealed on the basis that one EC number is sufficient in multiple claimant claims. Sainsburys cross appealed arguing that the tribunal should have rejected the claims of other claimants on the basis that an EC number should be specific to each individual.
The EAT has confirmed that the Tribunal erred in law. The EAT stated that Rule 10 of the Tribunal Rules only requires an EC number and in this case each of the claim forms contained an EC number which referred to a claimant who had complied with early conciliation. The EAT also rejected Sainsburys’ appeal.
You can read the full judgment here.
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This case update was written by Jo Sinclair, Solicitor at didlaw.