The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has said it will now schedule cases for remote hearing unless it believes this could be unfair to any of the parties involved, or would otherwise be contrary to the interests of justice.
In an update on its website, the commission said the introduction of level five restrictions from 21 October had accelerated the need for remote hearings at a time when face-to-face hearings were not possible.
The WRC noted that on 24 September 2020, an order assigning the commission as a ‘designated body’ under Section 31 of the Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020 came into force.
The act makes explicit provision for remote hearings, enhancing the WRC’s existing powers to hold remote hearings and removing any requirement for parties’ consent.
After a consultation process, the WRC began to hear some cases remotely on 10 July and signalled that, over time, it would expand the range of cases conducted virtually.
The WRC says it will look at a number of factors when considering any objections from parties to a remote hearing.
It warns, however, that 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, both of which are subject to a high threshold”.