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  • Writer's pictureRobert Spicer

Remote tribunal hearings


Remote hearings

Summary of most recent provisions

  • Hearings may take place in a wholly or partly remote basis. Wholly remote: where an ET venue is closed. Partly remote: party may join a hearing remotely where physical attendance is difficult or the venue is too small for social distancing.

  • Electronic signatures may be used where decisions and written reasons are delivered electronically.

  • Inspection of witness statements by members of the public may be otherwise than during the course of a hearing.

  • Employment Appeal Tribunal: individuals may be allowed to participate in a hearing, wholly or partly remotely if that is in the interests of justice.

  • Case management: judges should consider holding a case management discussion to decide the appropriateness of a remote hearing. This should consider the parties’ access to technology and special measures or reasonable adjustments. Judges should take active steps to identify and make adjustments for disabled or vulnerable parties and witnesses, litigants in person and persons with limited access to resources. The following factors are relevant:

  • Availability of space for social distancing

  • Possibility of safe travel to the venue

  • Availability of software and hardware

  • Availability of staff to support remote hearings

  • Length of delay for hearings in person

  • Personal circumstances of participants

  • Whether parties have legal representation

  • Access to and familiarity with technology

  • Whether fairness and justice require evidence to be evaluated in a face-to-face environment.

Each party is responsible to ensure in advance that witnesses can participate effectively in remote hearings.

Documents for remote hearings will normally be provided as an electronic bundle. Where hard copy is required, 24 hours must pass for safe handling.

Cloud Video Platform (CVP) is the preferred option.

In 45% of hearings, it was reported that there were problems with the technology.

Different judicial skills are required when conducting remote hearings.

Professional representatives

  • Representatives are likely to find a remote hearing more complex and demanding than a hearing where people are physically present.

  • They are potentially affected by issues such as lost connections, frozen screens and time lags.

  • They may find it difficult to judge the body language of the judge.

  • They may struggle to maintain contact with the client while attempting to focus on the hearing. Significant multi-tasking may be required.

  • Representatives must ensure that clients are adequately prepared for remote hearings. This may include availability of technology and suitable space.

See also:

Guidance published by the Judicial College: Good Practice for Remote Hearings

Presidential Guidance on e-bundles

Video hearing etiquette: joint FAQs published by the Presidents of the Employment Tribunals


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