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- UK Case Law

Beedell v West Ferry Printers

Ltd Before Lord Justice Aldous, Lord Justice Mummery and Lord Justice May
Judgment March 15, 2001

It was not appropriate for the Court of Appeal to set aside the grant of permission to appeal where, although the appeal was absolutely hopeless and bound to fail, the area of law in question was the subject of considerable controversy.
The Court of Appeal so held in dismissing an application brought by the employer, West Ferry Printers Ltd, to set aside permission to appeal granted by Lord Justice May on September 15, 2000 to the former employee, James Beedell, against the dismissal by the Employment Appeal Tribunal on July 7, 2000 of his appeal against the dismissal on December 14, 1999 of a south London employment tribunal of his complaints of unfair dismissal and dismissal for trade union activities. The Court of Appeal also dismissed the appeal, the subject of the permission.
Mr Jonathan Swift for the employer; Mr Gavin Millar, QC, who did not appear below, for the employee.
LORD JUSTICE MUMMERY said that the question was essentially procedural.
In deciding the employee's claim, the employment tribunal stated that applying the conventional range of reasonable responses test, the employer had acted reasonably and in accordance with equity and the substantial merits of the case.
They regarded the case as marginal where a decision to dismiss or not would be reasonable: see Haddon v Van den Bergh Foods Ltd ((1999) ICR 1150).
In Foley v Post Office (The Times August 17, 2000; (2000) ICR 1238) an unsuccessful challenge was mounted to the conventional range of reasonable responses test. However, Haddon was disapproved.
When the application for permission to appeal was made, Foley was not drawn to the attention of Lord Justice May. Thus, the employer made the application to set aside the permission to appeal.
In his Lordship's judgment, in dealing with its discretion under rule 52.9 of the Civil Procedure Rules, the court had to bear in mind the overriding objective in rule 1.1 to deal with the case justly.
If the court were to accede to the application it would result in an unappealable decision in an area of law recognised in Foley as being the subject of considerable controversy in unfair dismissal cases.
In his Lordship's judgment, the court should take the alternative course of dismissing the appeal, which Mr Millar had conceded was inevitable.
That left it open to the employee to apply for permission to appeal which, if refused by the Court of Appeal, could be renewed at the House of Lords.
Lord Justice Aldous and Lord Justice May agreed.
Solicitors: Simmons & Simmons; Russell Jones & Walker.

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