This is hot off the press!
Courts make mistakes!!!
Yes, seriously. They fail to answer their phones, they make errors in their typing and they send things to the wrong parties.
If you are or have ever been involved in any kind of court proceedings then you’ll know that I’m not telling you anything new. Most people that I deal with in courts are nice people, but they are often over worked and underfunded. This means that things go wrong, probably far more often than in other types of industry.
That may come as a surprise to you is that if the court makes a mistake, you may not be able to use that to your advantage.
Here’s an example.
In Employment Tribunals, your time to lodge an appeal runs from 42 days from when the decision was sent out by the court. You would therefore assume that if the court sent the judgment to the wrong party, your 42 days hadn’t started running yet. Well not necessarily. When this was tested out in court recently, the Tribunal said that the time DID run from the day it was sent out, because otherwise you’ve got to calculate it from when it was received, and that makes life too complicated and uncertain. However, the Tribunal did accept that if a party was unreasonably prejudiced by the court’s error, they could apply for more time. Nevertheless, in deciding whether to give you more time, the Court are likely to take into account what steps, if any, you have taken to find out what is going on.
It often happens in court cases that my client will be quite happy to let things go to sleep. If the court don’t do anything, they are happy to let sleeping dogs lie and I fully understand that. However, there is always the risk that the court hasn’t let things go to sleep, and has, in fact, said or done something (or told us to do say or do something) but because of an error on the part of the court or the postal service, I might not know about it until it’s too late.
So, in practice, if you are expecting to hear from the court, but there is just a very loud silence, you can choose to enjoy the peace, or you can choose to chase it up. If you chase it up, you could be waking up a case that might otherwise have remained asleep for months if not forever. On the other hand, if you do nothing, it is possible that there are things going on in court that you are not aware of and therefore not dealing with, and there may be a limit to how much protection you will have simply because the court sent it to the wrong place or didn’t tell you at all.
Kleyman & Co Solicitors. The full service law firm. Hot off the press.