OBJECTIONS TO REMOTE HEARINGS: WORKPLACE RELATIONS COMMISSION GUIDELINES
In line with section 31 Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020 and SI 359/2020, unless the WRC deems a remote hearing unsuitable in the circumstances, or the parties make representations to the effect that conducting proceedings via remote hearing could be unfair and / or contrary to the interests of justice, the WRC will schedule the case for remote hearing. It should be noted that in some instances part of a case may be suitable for remote hearing with the remainder heard in person, where possible.
Where a case has been listed for remote hearing, a party may submit that holding a remote hearing would not be in the interests of justice or would breach fair procedures. These guidelines address such circumstances and should be read alongside the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Policy on Remote Hearings: COVID-19 Update - Workplace Relations Commission However, please note these new guidelines apply to all new applications made from 1 July 2021
Objections to a hearing proceeding remotely may be made once the complaint(s) has/have been acknowledged by the WRC and notified to the other party. Objections must be received by the WRC within 5 working days from the date of the hearing notification letter (which may be communicated via email).
If the objection to a remote hearing listing is made later than 5 working days after the date of the remote hearing notification letter, it will be dealt with by the Adjudication Officer on the day of the remote hearing.
Objections may be made by submitting a request alongside any supporting documentation to the Adjudication Services via the dedicated email: email@example.com Applicants should copy in the other party so that they are on notice of the objection.
Applicants are required to state in detail their reasons for objecting to a remote hearing. Decisions will be made by the WRC with reference to the following non-exhaustive list of factors:
a) The length of the delay that will likely result if the hearing of the complaint(s) is/are to be held in person rather than remotely.
b) The complexity of the case, whether the parties are represented; the number of witnesses required to give evidence and whether the nature of any disputed evidence is such that fairness and justice require it to be evaluated by the AO in a face-to-face environment.
c) The personal circumstances of either party or any participant which would include disability or any specific accommodations that they may require to effectively participate in the hearing (including the use of multiple interpreters or attendance of a support person).
d) The ability of either party to engage in the hearing in a meaningful manner which would include considerations such as access to broadband and the requisite IT facilities (note that the WRC may require a sworn statement confirming the status of parties’ IT facilities or other evidence in support of such an objection).
e) Any specific exceptional circumstances in a particular case, which might present a material risk of unfairness or injustice.
Subsequent to receipt of such an application:
- The WRC will write to the other party notifying them of the application and the reasons furnished. Submitted supporting documentation generally will not be shared with the other party.
- That party will be given 2 working days to furnish comments on the application by email.
- The Adjudication Services will refer the objection to an Adjudication Officer who will decide whether the objection to proceeding by way of remote hearing should be upheld or refused. (Note: The Adjudication Officer who makes the decision in relation to the objection will not generally be involved in the subsequent hearing of the complaint(s)).
- In the event that the objection to a remote hearing is upheld by the Adjudication Officer, all parties will subsequently be notified of the outcome in writing advising that the hearing is postponed and will be rescheduled as a face-to-face hearing in due course.
- Similarly, parties will be informed, in writing, if the objection is not upheld and the remote hearing arrangements will be affirmed. If the objection to a remote hearing is not upheld and the party objecting is not satisfied with this outcome, the objection can be presented to the Adjudication Officer (who has been assigned by the Director General of the WRC to inquire into or investigate the complaint(s)) at the opening of the remote hearing. The Adjudication Officer will decide at that stage whether to proceed with the remote hearing or adjourn and reschedule as a face-to-face hearing.
The WRC Privacy Statement is set out at: Data Protection - Workplace Relations Commission