EAT Upholds Decision on Time Extension in Race Discrimination Case

Citation: [2024] EAT 2
Judgment on


The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) case of Dr. Nicholas Jones v The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care delves into the complexities surrounding the application of the Equality Act 2010 (EQA), particularly the evaluation of direct race discrimination in the context of employment and the discretionary power of Employment Tribunals regarding the extension of time limits for bringing complaints.

Key Facts

Dr. Nicholas Jones, an applicant of African-Caribbean descent, contested that he faced direct race discrimination upon not being selected for the role of Assistant Business Development Manager. His claim was both dismissed on merits and deemed out-of-time by the Employment Tribunal. Subsequently, the appellant sought to extend the time period for submitting his claim under the basis that it was just and equitable.

The crux of the case rests upon the point at which the appellant was aware of the discriminatory act and the subsequent delay in submitting his claim. The appellant believed he had until August 9th, 2019, to file his claim but only initiated ACAS early conciliation on September 30th, 2019. This extension request was pivotal because the appellant was not informed of the successful candidate’s race—a white individual—until a preliminary hearing, well after the primary limitation period had expired.

Several key legal principles and provisions from the EQA were scrutinized in this case:

  1. Primary Limitation Period: The EQA stipulates a three-month period post the date of the act of discrimination for bringing forth a complaint, with the possibility of an extension based on what is considered ‘just and equitable’ (section 123 EQA).

  2. Extension of Time: The discretion to extend this time limit is wide-ranging, and an Employment Tribunal’s decision is to be disturbed only if an error in principle is identified, as outlined in Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police v Caston and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Local Health Board v Morgan.

  3. Comparators in Discrimination Claims: The case addresses the role of actual comparators in race discrimination claims. Brought to the fore is the question of when information about a comparator (in this case, the race of the successful candidate) becomes significant, as in the Barnes v Metropolitan Police Commissioner and another where knowledge of a comparator’s attributes may influence the decision regarding the extension of time limits.

  4. Reasonable Grounds to Delay: This primarily invokes the assessment of whether it was reasonable for the appellant to delay filing the claim until he had knowledge of the successful candidate’s race.

  5. Prejudice Resulting from Delay: The tribunal considered the prejudice faced by the respondent due to the delayed claim, with the deterioration in the cogency of evidence due to passage of time deemed a repercussion of the delay (section 123 EQA).


The Employment Tribunal deemed that the delay in the filing of the claim was not justified, irrespective of the appellant’s lack of knowledge of the successful candidate’s race at the time of initiating the claim. The EAT upheld the Employment Tribunal’s decision, finding that it was not perverse, and the appellant’s lack of knowledge regarding the successful candidate’s attributes did not amount to a just and equitable ground for extending the time limit.

The EAT referred to the claimant’s own assertion that suspicion arose shortly after the response received on July 3rd as the primary reason for initiating the claim. Also noted was the potential detrimental impact on the respondent’s ability to address the complaint due to the passage of time, thereby aligning with principles highlighted in Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University concerning the prejudice to the respondent.


The EAT’s decision in Jones v Secretary of State for Health & Social Care reinforces the concept that the exercise of judicial discretion regarding the extension of time limits is intended to be sparing. However, it does affirm that claimants have the right to challenge acts of discrimination and seek extensions where they can logically present their claims within a reasonable timeframe. This decision also emphasizes the need for a balancing act between ensuring employers are not unduly prejudiced by delays and validating a claimant’s efforts to gather sufficient evidence before formally lodging a complaint.