Remote Employment Tribunals | Advice for Employers
Cross examining a witness via video conference call would never have been considered by the Employment Tribunal system a few weeks ago. However due to the Covid-19 outbreak new guidance to hold remote Employment Tribunals has been recommended from the Tribunals Judiciary, with full merits hearing, including giving evidence by parties and cross examination by representatives conducted using video and audio technology.
Remote Employment Tribunals
All hearings over the next few weeks have been changed to a Telephone Preliminary Hearing, where the parties will be able to discuss how best to proceed in the short to medium future.
A pure postponement and delay of all hearings would inevitably cause further strain on the already struggling tribunal system, and multi-day hearings listed for the next few weeks may not likely be heard until 2021. This will prove challenging to all lawyers and witnesses in proceedings, as the parties may all be working remotely, and taking instruction mid trial may be limited to email questions, or additional breaks in proceedings.
It will be a learning curve for all lawyers, judges, and parties, and whilst may be slow at the beginning of this process, it may demonstrate the ability of the courts and tribunal systems to modernise and upgrade both its technology and operating practices.
There may be difficulty over how hearings remain ‘public’, though it should be noted that employment tribunals are rarely spectator sports. Apart from senior hearings, which are sometimes televised online, the only viewers in person of normal employment tribunal hearings are generally law students and those with forthcoming hearings of their own.
It will be a challenge to all people and businesses during this time to adapt to video conferencing, and for there to become a universally accepted video conferencing App of choice, which would be beneficial. It will also be interesting to see how the Tribunals system changes once the pandemic is over, as it may be the case that it never reverts back to the previous system. Once we know more, we will inform Wirehouse clients, especially those with any tribunal hearings, straight away.
Got a question about remote Employment Tribunals? Speak to one of our expert Employment Law Consultants today.