Are Virtual Tribunal Hearings Going To Be The New Normal In The UK?


During the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is likely that you have frequently been using the term ‘new normal’. It is fair to say that Coronavirus has changed the way that the vast majority of sectors are working and many companies are starting to plan out what their new normal will be. One industry, in particular, that is starting to pave the way for their new normal, is employment law. Whilst, for the most part, many employment law solicitors are joining many other employees across the UK and are working from home, there has been an increased curiosity in relation to how Employment Tribunal hearings are going to work.

Traditionally, Employment Tribunals hearings will be undertaken in person. You may find that there are some cases which are exceptions to this, when there are issues regarding location or safety, but they tend to be few and far between. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has started to change what is traditionally normal. Of course, due to the many restrictions being put in place by the Government, lots of hearings are being postponed, but others are taking place virtually by phone or video.

It goes without saying that as technology is evolving it is changing the way that many areas of law work and law firms are often having to adapt to these changes. Currently, the biggest change to employment law solicitors is that The Coronavirus Act 2020 has expanded the availability of video and audio links during tribunal proceedings and also full video and audio hearings in certain circumstances. (If you have an upcoming employment tribunal hearing then the court will be in contact to inform you how your hearing is going to take place.) 

Now that many restrictions and lockdown measures are starting to be relaxed and lots of businesses are returning to work with their ‘new normal’, employment law experts and people with upcoming employment tribunal hearings are wondering whether these virtual hearings will be the new normal in this industry. Of course, as expected, there are many unanswered questions in this regard but many employment law specialists up and down the country have looked into this further. 

Virtual employment tribunal hearings and the future


There is no denying that both audio and video technology has played a part in the justice system for many years now and it is frequently relied upon. Now that it has been used even more so during the COVID-19 pandemic, many employment lawyers see no reason why the majority of Employment Tribunal hearings can’t continue to be undertaken virtually. It is expected that if the cases which are being undertaken virtually at the moment are successful, then video and audio hearings may become the new norm.

Of course, it is important to remember that all cases are different and whilst a virtual hearing may be a brilliant solution for many, it simply won’t work for others. There are still likely to be some circumstances where attendance in person is essential or it isn’t appropriate to have a virtual hearing. For this reason, it is more likely that in the future, virtual hearings will be case dependent and claimants will be required to inform their employment law solicitors and the Employment Tribunal of any circumstances which may impair or affect their ability to undertake a video or audio hearing. 

What can we expect to happen next?


It is fair to say that undertaking Employment Tribunal hearings virtually long-term can actually go on to save both time and money. There is hope that it will also provide easier access to justice and allow uncomplicated causes to be settled much quicker, providing claimants with answers sooner than they would receive otherwise. As long as employment law specialists don’t experience ongoing issues with virtual hearings then it is likely they won’t disappear when COVID-19 does. 

Introducing virtual tribunal hearings long-term could be one of the biggest adjustments made to the tribunal system. This is undeniably daunting for many within the industry, but at the same time, it is also incredibly exciting. Ultimately, only time will tell what’s going to happen and there is no way to predict exactly what will change over the next few months and as we head into 2021. It will certainly be interesting to see what the next steps are as even more Government restrictions are lifted. 

Reaching out to an employment law solicitor 

If you would like to speak to an employment law solicitor about a potential claim, please visit the Location Lawyer website today. Whether you live in the south of the country and you’re looking for an employment law solicitor in Southampton or you live in the north and you need an employment solicitor in Manchester, we can help you find the best people to provide you with legal advice in your area.