The failure of An Post to guarantee next-day delivery was blamed by a Dublin college for losing an appeal to the Labour Court.
Because of delays in the post, the appeal documentation arrived too late for consideration by the court.
In the original case, on 13 June 2008, a rights commissioner recommended in favour of the nurses union, the INO, in an industrial dispute with Blanchardstown Institute of Technology.
Under legislation, either party has 42 days, or six weeks, to appeal a Rights Commissioner's recommendation to the more formal Labour Court.
The institute argued that it posted its appeal form on 23 July 2008 and that it "should have arrived" in the Labour Court the next day – 24 July – 42 days after the commissioner's recommendation and the last day for an appeal
But due to the vagaries of the postal system, the appeal didn't arrive at the Labour Court until the following day – 25 July.
The college argued that if it was unable to appeal to the Labour Court it would be prevented from further appeals to the civil courts and that this would be a "breach of its constitutional rights by no fault of its own".
The INO said that the college had no basis for believing that the appeal form was received the day after posting as "statistically only 72% of post is next-day delivery".
The nurses union suggested the form could have been faxed or sent by courier.
Raymond McGee, deputy chairman of the Labour Court said that it was bound by the law and "no satisfactory reason" was advanced for the late lodgement.
McGee added that the responsibility for ensuring the appeal reached the court in a timely manner lay entirely with the college.
"After all, it had 42 days in which to decide whether to lodge an appeal and to do so", said McGee.