Labour Court Enhanced Powers to Hold Remote Hearings
Introduction of the Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020 (Section 31) (Labour Court) (Designation) Order 2020 – SI 515/2020
On 4 November 2020, SI 515/2020 came into force. This Order assigned the Labour Court as a “designated body” for the purposes of Section 31 of the Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020 (‘the 2020 Act’). The Act makes explicit provision for remote hearings thereby enhancing the Court’s existing powers to hold remote hearings in a virtual courtroom and removing any requirement for parties’ consent.
The introduction of level 5 restrictions from 21 October 2020 has accelerated the need for remote hearings whilst face-to-face or in-person hearings in Lansdowne House or elsewhere are not possible.
The Order allows the Court to schedule any type of complaint or appeal submitted for hearing as a remote hearing in a virtual courtroom - subject to the scheduling being in the interests of justice and fairness per section 31(2) of the 2020 Act.
Therefore, unless it appears to the Court that conducting proceedings via remote hearing could be unfair to any of the parties involved in a particular complaint or appeal or would otherwise be contrary to the interests of justice, the Court will schedule the case as a remote hearing in a virtual courtroom.
Under the Order the Court has been designated as a body which may adopt such practice and procedures, as are necessary to enable the conduct of a hearing by remote hearing to ensure efficiency in the conduct of hearings under the enactment (please see here, User Guide to Labour Court hearings in Virtual Courtrooms).
All cases will be considered amenable to remote hearing, unless the parties can demonstrate how holding a remote hearing might not be in the interests of justice or would breach fair procedures.
In considering whether or not proceeding by way of remote hearing would be unfair to a party or would otherwise be contrary to the interests of justice, the Court will have due regard to fair procedure and natural justice.