COVID-19 Update - 5 May 2020
The following is the current position with respect to Labour Court operations:
The Court is committed to observing fully the advice and guidance of Government and the Public Health Authorities. The health of staff, members and users of the Labour Court is the priority throughout this extraordinary period and is the measure against which Court operations have been and will be planned.
The operational meaning of current Public Health guidance having regard to the work of the Labour Court is that it is not currently possible to convene a hearing of the Court in a physical courtroom. The Court has therefore been making arrangements for the convening of hearings utilising technology which would allow attendees at the hearing to be remote from each other. The Court has decided that such hearings will now be offered to selected cases. Not every case will be suitable for hearing in a virtual court-room but many cases are.
A number of cases have been selected for hearing in a virtual court-room. Over recent days a number of parties in such cases have been contacted by the Court. In those instances, parties have been briefed on the technology required at the user end and invited to confirm that they are equipped to remotely attend a Court hearing. Where parties have confirmed their capacity to attend such a hearing the Court is proceeding to schedule a hearing in the normal way. Hearings in a virtual court-room can be attended by a party with internet access via a laptop or desktop computer or via a smart phone.
The Court appreciates that a hearing in a virtual court-room is a different experience to the normal and also that some parties might be concerned as a result. The Court however selects for such hearings those cases where it is satisfied that the platform is appropriate and where the parties can be assured of a fair hearing and a full opportunity to state their case and to respond to any position advanced by the other party. In all cases written submissions will continue to be required in advance in the normal way.
The Court expects that where a party is contacted by the Court in this manner and where the party can confirm that they have the necessary technology to participate, such a party will co-operate with the Court in terms of arranging a hearing of the matter in which they are involved. Where no reasonable basis exists for a party to refuse to participate in a hearing in a virtual court-room the Court may, in any event, schedule such a hearing.
The Court will continue to select cases for hearing in a virtual court-room over the coming period until Public Health guidance is to the effect that physical hearings can be arranged. It is anticipated that, in the case of some locations at least, the Court will require to hear cases in a virtual court-room for some time.
The Court has prepared a user’s guide to virtual Labour Court Hearings and it is available here.
Throughout this period, parties are assured that the Court continues to receive appeals. Use of the online referral facility at firstname.lastname@example.org is encouraged but appeals via ordinary post are also being received.
Appeals and referrals submitted by e-mail at email@example.com can be made up to 12 midnight on the 42nd day following the making of a decision by an Adjudication Officer and the date of receipt will be the date and time automatically recorded on the e-mail system. Receipt of appeals submitted by ground mail will be recorded with a date stamp on the day the envelope containing the appeal is received in the Court’s premises.
5th May 2020