The Senior President of Tribunals, Sir Ernest Ryder, today announced a series of temporary changes to hearings taking place throughout all tribunals, as well as panel compositions. 

Specific changes have been introduced through pilot practice directions for the employment tribunal and health, education and social care (mental health) chamber, as well as changes which apply across all first tier and upper tribunals. 

The thrust of the rules announced today are that, wherever possible, hearings should proceed remotely (by video or telephone), rather than in person. Also, where a chamber’s rules allow, and certain other conditions are met, decisions can in some instances be made, based on the papers without the need for a hearing.

If you appear in any first tier or upper tribunal please familiarise yourself with Sir Ernest’s four announcements, since they will impact how you practise for the foreseeable future.

The announcements are listed below: 

https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/General-Pilot-Practice-Direction-Final-For-Publication-PDF.pdf

https://www.judiciary.uk/publications/pilot-practice-direction-panel-composition-in-the-first-tier-tribunal-and-the-upper-tribunal/

https://www.judiciary.uk/publications/pilot-practice-direction-health-education-and-social-care-chamber-of-the-first-tier-tribunal-mental-health/

https://www.judiciary.uk/announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-message-from-presidents-of-the-employment-tribunals-in-england-wales-and-in-scotland

A significant number of barristers appearing in the tribunals have contacted us over the past week with concerns about continuing to appear in person at hearings. Today’s announcements should ensure that hearings throughout the first tier and upper tribunals will ordinarily be remote.

Irrespective of your practice, if you find that these pilot practice directions are not being followed in the chamber(s) in which you appear, please contact us immediately at C19WG@BarCouncil.org.uk so that we can raise this with the Senior President of Tribunals or the president of the relevant chamber.

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