Mr De Mota was an LGV driver. He claimed to be employed by ADR Network (a trading name of PPF Group Limited) and assigned to work for another company, although the precise nature of the contractual arrangements was in dispute between the parties.
After the arrangement terminated, he started early conciliation using a single ACAS on-line form, naming both companies as respondents. Although separate forms should be completed if an employee wants to proceed against more than one respondent, ACAS accepted the form. A single early conciliation certificate was eventually issued which named both respondents. Mr De Mota then issued proceedings in the tribunal.
The respondents argued that Mr De Mota had not complied with the early conciliation requirements because two (incorrect) entities were named in a single certificate. The tribunal agreed, finding that separate early conciliation certificates are required for each respondent. Because Mr De Mota had not complied with early conciliation requirements, his claim could not proceed.
The EAT has overturned that decision, emphasising the importance of substance over form. The early conciliation requirements are designed to allow an opportunity for conciliation to be considered, not to encourage satellite litigation. Mr De Mota had received an early conciliation certificate as he was required to do and his claim was allowed to proceed.