The Presidents of Employment Tribunals in England and Wales and in Scotland have announced that with effect from 20 November 2023, all employment tribunal proceedings will be recorded by HMCTS, using audio recording only, where facilities are available to do so.
The new position is governed by this Presidential Practice Direction and supported by Presidential Guidance.
At the moment, most hearing rooms used by the Employment Tribunals do not have recording equipment installed. In a small number of locations in England and Wales, the Employment Tribunals are co-located with 'normal' court buildings, and some of those hearing rooms do have recording facilities. No information is provided by HMCTS on whether, and the extent to which, that will change in the short or medium term. All remote hearings will be recorded by using BT MeetMe conferencing service, CVP and/or the Video Hearings service.
Where the technical facility exists and where such recordings can be securely retained, all hearings will be recorded - whether they are preliminary hearings or full hearings, or hearings for case management, remedy, costs or reconsideration, and whether they are held in public or private, and whether they are held in person or remotely. There are only two exceptions where recordings will not be made: judicial mediation / dispute resolution appointments, and hearings where there is a national security order in place.
As before, it remains the case that no party, representative, witness or member of the press or public may record or broadcast a hearing without the permission of the tribunal, which will only be given in exceptional circumstances.
The recordings can be used for very limited purposes only, as set out in the Practice Direction. They include:
- by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office, when investigating allegations against a judge;
- by the tribunal, for the purpose of preparing its judgment;
- in exceptional circumstances, and only with permission of the tribunal, by a party or representative. This is expected to be when it is in the interests of justice to ensure the effective participation of a vulnerable party or witness, or by way of reasonable adjustment for a person with a disability. Listening to the audio recording will normally only be permitted at HMCTS premises and under supervision.