The President of the Employment Tribunals (England & Wales), Judge Barry Clarke, has issued three new Presidential Guidance documents which take effect today.
First is the Presidential Practice Direction on remote hearings and open justice. This sets out the way that open justice should be preserved during remote hearings, for example by witness statements being put up on screen or read out by the witness.
Second is the Presidential Guidance on remote and in-person hearings. This sets out the factors to consider when deciding whether a hearing should be remote, partly remote, or in person, and gives guidance on how parties should prepare for remote hearings (including guidance on lodging documents). The preference is that documents should be lodged as PDFs, not paper bundles, although that remains only a preference (I, for one, experienced a tribunal office recently which refused to accept a PDF bundle because it did not have the facilities to print it off - meaning a paper bundle had to be delivered at considerable inconvenience). It also sets out safety factors for in-person hearings, for example sepatate paper bundles should be available for each witness (unless the witnesses are gloved), and tribunals can refused to accept documents handed up during the hearing unless the representative handing up the documents is wearing gloves.
Third, and final, is the Presidential Practice Direction on the use of the Welsh Language. This reminds tribunals in Wales than any witness or participant who wishes to use Welsh rather than English is entitled to do so in tribunal proceedings, and sets out the process by which this is best managed. Helpfully, the Practice Direction is also provided in Welsh.