In John Lewis Partnership v Charman UKEAT/0079/11, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) held that it may not be reasonably practicable for an unfair dismissal claim to be presented within time if the employee is reasonably ignorant of the applicable 3 month time limit.

Mr Charman was dismissed on 13 March and therefore had three months, until 12 June, to bring an unfair dismissal claim. He appealed against his dismissal and waited until the internal appeal process had come to an end before investigating how he could bring a claim, by which point the 3 month time limit had lapsed.

The EAT held that there is obvious sense in a party awaiting the outcome of an appeal before resorting to legal proceedings and it was reasonable for someone as inexperienced and ignorant of unfair dismissal and Tribunal procedure as Mr Charman not to explore the practicalities of bringing a claim within time. He was therefore allowed to bring his claim. This strikes us as an odd decision - Ignorance of the law is generally "no defense".