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Tribunal proceedings could be recorded

By Catherine Baksi >>

(25 April 2022)

Employment tribunal hearings conducted remotely would be recorded and transcripts made available under plans being considered by senior judges.

Last month, more than 300 doctors, journalists and whistleblowers wrote to Sir Keith Lindblom, the senior president of tribunals and the heads of the employment tribunals in England, Wales and Scotland, voicing concern over the lack of recordings. Unlike in most other jurisdictions, no official recording or transcripts are made of proceedings in the employment tribunal, which campaigners say creates unfairness, especially to unrepresented litigants.

Responding on behalf of Sir Keith, his secretary wrote: ‘The presidents of the Employment Tribunals are giving consideration to recordings and transcripts in the context of video hearings, where there is a facility to make a recording.’

In the few employment tribunals in England and Wales in premises shared with other courts that have recording equipment, the letter said said ‘its use is encouraged’. However for most in-person hearings, recordings cannot be made because equipment is not installed, adding that provision is a matter for HM Courts and Tribunals Service.

The reply suggests that parties may take a note of the proceedings. It admits that ‘there is no provision in the rules or the Employment Tribunal Regulations that requires hearings to be recorded or transcripts to be produced’.

However it states that: ‘The overriding objective of the Employment Tribunal rules of procedure is to deal with cases fairly and justly. That includes, so far as practicable, ensuring that the parties are on an equal footing.’

While the reply goes some way to address campaigners concerns, it is only a first step. Journalist David Hencke, a signatory to the letter said: ‘Many whistleblowers say they feel at a disadvantage particularly if they wish to appeal a decision and they haven’t got a transcript to raise points that are not mentioned in the judgement.’

He added: ‘There has to be change in the employment tribunal system to bring it up to the 21st century and the HM Tribunal and Court Service needs to explain how they intend to bring this about.’

(Courtesy: The Law Soiety Gazette)