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Paralegal loses sex discrimination claim after failing to attend hearings

Conduct represents ‘at best, a fundamental misunderstanding and at worst a serious lack of respect for the tribunal process,’ says judge

27 July 2017

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A charity law service which provides free legal advice for disabled people has successfully opposed claims for sex discrimination, harassment, and victimisation by a former employee.

Fay Matin who had been employed as a paralegal/triage adviser for less than eight months by the Disibility Law Service of Oval Way, London, made the legal claims against her former employers at London South Employment Tribunal.

She also made references to the Data Protection Act and the Human Rights Act.

The respondents opposed the claims and denied the allegations and a ten-day hearing had been arranged for October.

Tribunal Judge Morton has since approved a strike out application by the law service after accusing Matin of attending only one of four preliminary hearings.

In a report, the respondents described Matin’s claims as “scandalous, indiscriminate, and vexatious” and alleged her conduct of the tribunal proceedings had been unreasonable.

The judge’s report said the respondents alleged the claimant had not complied with the orders of a previous judge and that her allegations had been “fanciful and/or exaggerated”.

The respondents also complained that the claims had been registered with the tribunal out of time.

Judge Morton’s judgment said that Matin had failed to attend three of four preliminary hearings “as well as representing a clear disregard for the orders given by a previous judge”.

The judge continued: “These are very serious allegations to make without any apparent foundation or evidence to support them.

“They indicate, at best, a fundamental misunderstanding and at worst a serious lack of respect for the tribunal process.

“It seems to me that the claimant herself is ‘putting herself in a corner,’ as she expressed it, by refusing to attend hearings to explain her concerns about the process, or why she is making particular applications, thereby preventing her concerns being fully aired and considered by a judge.

“The claimant’s communications, in fact, suggest she does not actually want a trial of her claims to take place and is actually seeking to avoid one.”

Peter Swingler is a freelance reporter

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Employment Courts & Judiciary