Judgment No. 3704
The complaint is dismissed.
The complainant contests the decision of the former Director of the ILO Office in Berlin to apply to her the sanction of warning.
disciplinary measure; warning
In Judgment 3311, considerations 5 and 6, the Tribunal reiterated the consistently stated principle that the time limits for internal appeal procedures and the time limits in the Tribunal’s Statute serve the important purposes of ensuring that disputes are dealt with in a timely way and that the rights of parties are known to be settled at a particular point of time.
The Tribunal’s rationalisation of this general principle may be summarized as follows: time limits are an objective matter of fact and strict adherence to them is necessary for the efficacy of the whole system of administrative and judicial review of decisions. An inefficacious system could potentially adversely affect the staff of international organisations. Flexibility about time limits should not intrude into the Tribunal’s decision-making, even if it might be thought to be equitable or fair in a particular case to allow some flexibility. To do otherwise would “impair the necessary stability of the parties’ legal relations”. This general principle applies to internal appeals, even if the internal appeal body considers the appeal on its merits, notwithstanding that time limits have not been complied with. It would be wrong for an internal appeal body to hear an appeal that was time-barred and the Tribunal would not entertain a complaint challenging the decision taken on a recommendation by that body. However, there are exceptions to this general approach expressed in the Tribunal’s case law. One such exception is where a defendant organisation has misled the complainant thus depriving her or him of the possibility of exercising her or his right of appeal, in breach of the principle of good faith (see, for example, Judgment 2722, consideration 3, and Judgment 3311, considerations 5 and 6).
Jugement(s) TAOIT: 2722, 3311
The message that the original decision would be sent by post could possibly and reasonably have confused and misled the complainant causing uncertainty as to when she was being notified of the decision and whether the time limit for filing her grievance ran from [the date] when she received the e-mail. It is accordingly determined that this is an exception which permitted the complainant to file her grievance with the JAAB when she did. The complaint is therefore receivable. The Tribunal considers that a statement in HRD’s decision, or in the e-mail by which it was sent, making it clear that the time limit for filing a grievance with the JAAB would have run from the date on which the complainant received the scanned copy, would have put the matter beyond doubt.
time limit; notification
If the complainant did not agree with the Director’s instruction, her recourse was to ask for written instructions. If the Director confirmed the instruction, she was obliged to obey the instruction she had received. As the complainant did not follow the instruction, the Director had the discretion to issue the warning to the complainant, which she did.