"Road map" published for tribunal proceedings and a possible return to fees
On 1 June 2020, the Presidents of the Employment Tribunals in England and Wales and in Scotland updated their list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The FAQs contain a 'road map' (described as "aspirational") which indicates how the tribunals intend to approach the hearing of cases between June and December. The road map is dependent on matters outside judicial control (there may be further lockdowns), and different approaches may be taken in different regions. The Presidents wish to maximise the number of hearings that can take place using remote hearing technology, although if a party objects to its use, their objection will be considered.
The road map defines three types of claim: short track, standard track and open track. The remainder of the year is being split into four phases: June, July to August, September to October, and November to December.
An EAT Practice Direction on Remote Hearings has been issued which takes effect from 12 June. It covers how partially and fully remote hearings will work and prohibits parties recording remote hearings.
The President of the Employment Tribunals (Scotland) has issued a Practice Direction and informal guidance on the fixing and conduct of remote hearings. Parties will have to conduct tests with a clerk a few days before any remote video hearing. If the parties lack the technology or technological competence to use the Cloud Video Platform, the judge will reconsider the decision to hold a remote hearing.
In the meantime the Ministry of Justice has written to the Law Commission inviting it to "provide recommendations for creating a coherent system for charging and updating fees in the future". It remains to be seen what the outcome is, but it seems that fees may once again play a part in employment tribunal proceedings!