By Julie Duane, Employment Barrister
In these unprecedented times, the legal arena needs to adapt and transform its methods and practices in order to ensure that cases can continue to be heard and dealt with. Clearly, it is in the interest of justice that cases be dealt with expeditiously. One pressing example of the importance of this in practice can include the potentially ever-reducing probity, accuracy and weight of witness evidence and recollection, as time effluxes. Over the last few days, various issues have become apparent, as no organisation is operating as usual. With this in mind St Philips is updating our checklist for Solicitors to assist with the Employment Tribunal process, as follows:
Over the last few days, various guidance has been circulated by several senior strands of the Judiciary, indicating a preference for the use of Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams for hearings. Solicitors should therefore ensure that they are not only aware of these software packages and their respective functions, but that they may also wish to consider adopting a number of temporary Microsoft email accounts so that witnesses can use these to participate in forthcoming hearings.
As the judiciary are largely operating a Work From Home (WFH) approach to preliminary hearings, it is essential that electronic information is provided in advance of Case Management Hearings. Solicitors should therefore ensure:
These checklists are non-exhaustive, but we suggest this is a good starting point, if not a bare minimum requirement, of the steps required to prepare for a virtual hearing and will be subject to a continual review. Whilst we will work with you on a case by case basis to ensure that these steps are effective, we would invite you to support the view that facilitating virtual hearings where possible is the ideal solution, so as to avoid further time, costs and inevitable difficulties in evidence following significant time lapses between events.
Written by Julie Duane