Cross examining a witness via video conference call would never have been considered by the Employment Tribunal system a few weeks ago but there is a possibility that remote Employment Tribunals could take place in the future. Although we are a long way from full merit hearings taking place via video conferencing, it is not inconceivable that issues beyond telephone Case Management Discussion (CMD’s) could be conducted via video conferencing.
Remote Employment Tribunals
All hearings over the next few weeks have been changed to a Telephone Case Management Discussion, 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 cause a significant backlog in cases, and parties should be prepared for lengthy delays in their cases coming before an employment tribunal.
Although video conferencing in employment tribunals would be new, other areas of law already use video conferencing systems well, and whilst it may be slow at the beginning of this process, it may demonstrate the ability of the employment 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 some Supreme Court 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. However, publicising the link to the hearing online would likely resolve that issue.
At the moment, no full merits hearings are taking place before the end of June 2020. We will hear at the end of April whether or not this may be extended, depending on how the country is battling COVID-19. 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.