A number of recent EAT rulings suggest that technical arguments over compliance with the early conciliation rules for tribunal claims may be given short shrift.

Normally a prospective claimant must provide certain information to Acas and obtain a certificate of early conciliation from Acas before a tribunal claim will be accepted. However, the EAT has ruled that claims will not be thrown out simply because the claimant gave Acas a different name for the employer (eg, a trading name) from that included in the tribunal claim, provided Acas has sufficient information to enable it to contact the employer. (Mist v Derby Community Health Services NHS Trust)

The EAT has also endorsed a flexible approach by tribunals exercising their discretion to permit amendments to existing claims without requiring fresh early conciliation. In Mist this was the addition of a second respondent, in Drake International Systems Ltd v Blue Arrow Ltdit was the substitution of four subsidiary companies as respondents in place of the parent company, and in Science Warehouse Ltd v Mills the claimant was permitted to add an additional related claim even though it arose after the ET1 has been issued. Employers should therefore be aware that they could potentially be added or substituted as respondents to an existing claim, or that new claims could be added, without having an opportunity to engage in early conciliation.