Giving evidence as a witness in tribunal proceedings can be nerve-wracking. With tribunal hearings now largely taking place via video link due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the introduction of an unknown process can increase nerves. With careful preparation, many of these unknown factors can be addressed in order to give your witnesses the best chance of providing effective evidence. We work closely with clients on preparation for hearings, and have set out below some tips for employers to assist with preparation:
- Ensure the witness has access to a stable internet connection and a quiet space. This may involve them providing evidence from the office if their home set up is not suitable.
- How many screens does the witness need and is what they have sufficient? The tribunal requires them to have a suitable device with a camera, speaker and microphone for the video link. If there is an electronic bundle they must also be able to view it simultaneously, which may require a separate device. Provision of this equipment may take some time to arrange, and there is real benefit to considering it early on in proceedings.
- Will you give them time off to observe remote tribunal proceedings? As with in person hearings, it is possible to join remote hearings as an observer. Getting a sense of the process can be extremely valuable as part of preparation.
- How will they communicate with the representative and the rest of the team on the day? WhatsApp groups or other chat functions could be set up, but note that the witness cannot be part of them during the time that they are giving evidence under oath.
The Tribunals have published presidential guidance to assist with the preparation for remote hearings. Please click here to view this.
There is no doubt that careful preparation can reduce the chances of unexpected issues arising in remote hearings and, as they are likely to be here to stay it is something that more employers will face.
To find out more, you can register for the third and final part of our latest webinar series, 'How (not) to lose an Employment Tribunal - part 3'
, taking place at 10am on 3 December 2020. Alternatively you can contact Abigail Maino
or your usual contact in our DMH Stallard Employment Team.