Law Society President Michele O’Boyle says she will be examining closely a document from the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) setting out how it proposes to provide its services in the light of the COVID-19 restrictions.
She previously made a detailed submission to the WRC on proposals for conducting remote hearings.
In her latest bulletin, the president says that while virtual hearings have considerable potential where parties are willing and able to fully take part in them, it is important to bear in mind the vulnerability of certain service users and to make appropriate accommodations where possible.
She says the Law Society will continue its constructive engagement with the WRC, and seek workable solutions that preserve the full legal rights of all parties.
In its document, the WRC urges all parties to engage with its mediation process as much as possible.
“Mediation is critical to the WRC meeting overall demand in the current emergency and affords parties the opportunity to settle differences amicably in what are challenging times,” it says.
The WRC is also conducting trials of virtual hearings, using the ‘WebEx’ platform which is also being used by the Labour Court.
“It is recognised that not all parties will have access to such technology and, in such circumstances, complaints that cannot be disposed of for this particular reason will be afforded priority listing in the relevant locations on the resumption of face-to-face hearings,” the commission says.