The Government has tried to reform the employment law practice by introducing online tribunals to solve employee problems, but is this as good of a solution as it initially sounds? Employment specialists warn that they may not be the go-to solution for all types of claims, and the reasons for it are twofold.
Accessible Only To Some?
Firstly, the Employment Lawyers Association points out that online tribunals for solving employee problems are not accessible to many claimants, such as members of the disadvantaged 5 per cent of the population who do not have regular or any access to the Internet whatsoever, nor do they have someone who can help them with it. Even with online access, however, some claimants still rely heavily on the assistance of the tribunal in order to effectively and fairly go after their case – particularly if it is a more complex or nuanced one.
It is for these reasons that the Employment Lawyers Association argues strongly that online hearings should not be mandatory, although it is good they remain as an option for those who would prefer and are able to use this type of claim resolution. “More often than not in employment cases, litigants in person out of necessity need the assistance from the tribunal to pursue their case effectively.
An online system would remove that all important leveller of the playing field and, in so doing, may compromise the fairness of an online system.”, reports UK authority.
There is also the issue of web access and inadequate technological equipments in UK courts for solving employee problems in this way. In order for people testifying and giving evidence in court, high quality equipment with good video and sound quality is indispensable. This is currently not the case for most courts across the UK.
As a case in point, read what Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division of the High Court of England and Wales, had to say on the matter: “The video links in too many family courts are a disgrace – prone to the link failing and with desperately poor sound and picture quality. The Royal Courts of Justice in London – surely the flagship – is a case in point. My own court – Court 33, the court of the President of the Family Division – has no such facilities and no video link. (…) This might be amusing if it is not so serious.
These were directions hearings which could properly proceed despite the appalling quality of the link. It would have been a very different matter if we had been trying to hear evidence over the link.”
All in all, online tribunals remain a good solution for solving employee problems, but only if co-existing alongside the actual, physical tribunal.