Employment Tribunal Mulls Over Recorded Hearings and Transcripts

Employment Tribunal Mulls Over Recorded Hearings and Transcripts

Plans are afoot in the England and Wales jurisdiction to put the Employment Tribunal system on a par with courts in other legal areas in the jurisdiction. Many parties are feeling disadvantaged as they do not have access to a record of the words spoken.

So What Is Planned?

For generations, the Employment Tribunal has not allowed its hearings to be recorded and no transcripts were permissible. However, in a seeming policy u-turn, the senior judiciary has made clear that it plans to allow permission for Employment Tribunal hearings to be recorded and the transcript published.

Why Is The Judiciary Considering These Measures Now?

The judiciary appears to be considering this radical step into the Employment Tribunal system after a recent incident when a piece of correspondence was received by the Lindblom from 300 persons including whistleblowers who expressed their worries about the absence of both recorded hearings and printed transcripts in the Employment Tribunal. Their collective opinion must have had some considerable weight behind them as it appears to have shifted the Employment Tribunals into action. The majority view of the campaign group was that the current system treats those finding themselves in the unfortunate position of lacking access to a legal representative to articulate their case unfairly.

The judiciary has confirmed the potential future direction of travel for the Employment Tribunals. Sir Keith Lindblom appears to have agreed with their concerns and outlined that the judiciary is mulling over introducing the wider-spread use of recording and transcripts.

Challenges To Introducing Transcripts And Recordings

It all sounds so easy to implement. The report seemingly makes it easy for an order to be made tomorrow obliging all Employment Tribunals to bring in recorded hearings and accompanying transcripts. However, the President provides a caveat to manage the expectations of the profession. He said the reforms would be introduced subject to where the technology allows a hearing to be recorded and from a practical perspective it will not be easy to introduce these because a proportion of the court estate containing the Employment Tribunal does not have the resources available to allocate to such measures. One stumbling block to both the implementation and use of recordings and transcripts in the Tribunal will be the fact that many are simply painfully under-resourced and lack the basic tools for the job.

Sea-Change

If these changes are introduced, the Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure will need to be reformed. The President in his response openly and honestly recognized that the Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure simply do not feature recorded hearings and accompanying transcriptions. However, it would be relatively straightforward to implement a rule permitting them. The Civil Courts are governed by the Civil Procedure Rules which allow under rule 39.9(1) the digital and tape recording of proceedings. The only exception to this requirement would be where the presiding judge gives directions to the contrary. In addition, persons are allowed to use theirs with the court’s consent. Without it, they may themselves on in a precarious situation and subject to contempt proceedings.

Anything Could Happen?

The judiciary appears to be strongly considering introducing recordings and transcripts in the Employment Tribunal. We will see in time how it progresses with its ambitions. However, it seems likely that a similar rule akin to CPR 39(1)(9) will be implemented into the Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure allowing these to take place in the majority of cases. This will of course be subject to the chairman’s consent and the availability of resources on the court’s estate.

The Legists Content Team

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THE ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN USING THE FOLLOWING SOURCES

[1] Baksi, Catherine – Tribunal proceedings could be recorded – Law Society Gazette - 25th April 2022 - Tribunal proceedings could be recorded | News | Law Gazette

[2] Ahmed, Masood – Recording and transcription of court hearings – Law Society Gazette - 4th October 2021 - Recording and transcription of court hearings | Feature | Law Gazette

[3] Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure

[4] Rule 39.9(1) Civil Procedure Rules

[5] Section 9 Contempt of Court Act 1981

[6] Section 85B Courts Act 2003

[7] Section 85C Courts Act 2003

[8] JR & B Farming Ltd v Hewitt [2021] EWHC 1704 (Comm)

[9] Agricultural Holdings Act 1986]

[10] Gubarev & Another v Orbis Business Intelligence & Another [2020] EWHC 2167 (QB)

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