Olenloa v North West London Hospitals NHS Trust UKEAT/0599/11/ZT


C was a Band 6 Clinical Team Leader Nurse working in the Stroke Unit at Northwick Park Hospital. He was
signed off sick from 29 September 2010 to date. In his first ET1, filed on 28 January 2011, he alleged that
he was disabled and suffered from an ”Adjustment Disorder with mixed anxiety and depressive reaction”.
He claimed that R had failed to make reasonable adjustments for him at his place of work and that he had
suffered detriment by reason of making a protected disclosure. A PHR was listed to determine whether his
claims in his first ET1 in relation to any events prior to the 29 September 2010 were out of time and
whether it was just and equitable to extend time. The ET decided that the complaints raised in his first ET1
related to his line managers and any concerns about their treatment of him must have stopped when he
went on extended sick leave. It was not just and equitable to extend time as C was aware of the time
limits in December 2010 and was able at that time to write a detailed grievance whilst on sick leave.

Therefore it was not an exceptional case where it would be appropriate to extend time. C appealed.


The EAT (Slade J sitting alone) upheld the appeal. C on his evidence before the ET was alleging a
continuing omission by R to make reasonable adjustments. He felt that if adjustments were put in place,
he could return from sick leave. The ET had not made full findings of fact as to whether the failure to
make adjustments were the reason that C was unable to remain at work, and so erred in deciding that R's
obligations to C had ended when he went off on sick leave.
Similarly, the ET’s decision that it was not just and equitable to extend time for presentation of the
complaints was undermined by the failure to make necessary finding of fact that time ran from the date C
went on sick leave. The length of delay in presenting the complaints was material to the exercise of the
discretion whether to extend time.


C's representative at the EAT argued that the ET had erred in not making findings of fact at a full merits
hearing, referring to the judgments of LJ Mummery in Arthur v London Eastern Railway Ltd [2010] ICR 193
and followed in Lyfar v Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust [2006] EWCA Civ 1548 where it was
held that the ET had erred in deciding the time point on the basis of legal argument without hearing full
evidence. The ET judge in Olenloa had referred to Arthur but it was argued that she had not applied the
ratio of the judgment.

The case illustrates that where a claim is based on a continuing state of affairs rather than a series of
distinctive events, any decisions on limitation are best taken along with all the evidence at a full merits

How to appoint Spencer

Please call Spencer on 07717 721204 to discuss your needs.
Alternatively, please email keen@oldsquare.co.uk or use our contact form to get in touch.