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18 March, 2020 Open access

Employment Tribunal Presidents issue joint Practice Direction on conduct of tribunals during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

New guidance encourages use of electronic communication to conduct hearings of all kinds

The Presidents of Employment Tribunals, for England and Wales and for Scotland, have issued a joint Practice Direction on the conduct of tribunals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Effective from 18 March 2020, the new guidance advises that during the pandemic Employment Tribunals, when seeking to apply the overriding objective in Rule 2 of the Employment Tribunals Rules of Procedure (to deal with cases fairly and justly), need to take into account the impact of the pandemic on how cases are conducted.

In particular, the Practice Direction highlights that the guidance provides -

(a) Tribunals with guidance as to how certain of the powers provided by the Rules may be exercised, during the pandemic, to give effect to the overriding objective;

(b) information to parties about steps Tribunals may take (including making orders and giving directions) during the pandemic, when exercising their powers under the Rules and how parties can cooperate with Tribunals to further the overriding objective; and

(c) strong encouragement to Tribunals and parties to use electronic communication methods, including skype for business and video conferencing technology where available, to conduct hearings of all kinds, where doing so is compatible with the overriding objective and the requirements of the Rules.

Presidential Guidance for Employment Tribunals Covid-19 is available from

Stop press - 23 March 2020 - the Presidents of Employment Tribunals (England and Wales) and (Scotland) have issued an amendment to the Presidential Guidance for Employment Tribunals Covid-19 which introduces a review mechanism and provides some clarity in connection with the timescale over which their Direction applies, in the first instance.