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Chambers & Partners
02/12/1999

Allen & Ors v AMCO

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An applicants’ interlocutory appeal for discovery relating to the issues was allowed.

An interlocutory appeal by employees against directions from the Leeds IndustrialTribunal concerning the hearing of a preliminary issue. The applicants all worked at a colliery and commenced their actions against the respondents under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981. The respondents were associated companies whose business included contracting with British Coal ('BC') and RJB Mining (UK) Ltd ('RJB'), in the provision of mining construction services.
The applicants contended that they were employed by the first respondent ('AMCO');but were then employed by the second respondent ('AM'); before returning to the employment of AMCO; these events arising through BC or RJB contracting with either AMCO or AM under a series of separate contracts. The directions included the withdrawal of the case against AM, and for a bundle to be agreed. The applicants’ requested extensive further discovery. The Chairman considered written representations and concluded that the requests were in the nature of a fishing expedition which were not necessary for the proper determination of the issues in thecase. The applicants contended that the Chairman had erred in law.
HELD: (1) Discovery in Industrial Tribunals is governed by statutory instrument incorporating Order 14 of the County Court Rules 1981, and the leading authority remains The Peruvian Guano Company (1883) 11 QB 55. Assistance is also gained from The Captain Gregos TLR 21 December 1990 and Wallace Smith Trust Co Ltd v Deloitte Haskins and Sells (1996) 4 All ER 403. (2) The position regarding appeals from Industrial Tribunal interlocutory orders is to be found in Adams & Raynor v West Sussex CC (1990) IRLR 215. (3) Considering the authorities and the change of position by the respondents that only AMCO had ever contracted with BC or RJB, the appeal would be allowed as the requests in dispute went to the issues in the caseTranscript – 16 pages

Mr John Hendy QC and Mr Michael Ford instructed by Christian Fisher for the appellants. Mr Gerrard Clarke instructed by Watson Burton for the respondents.

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