Before March 2020, if it had ever been suggested that in addition to making sure one is properly attired for Tribunal, a face mask would be required, it would have sparked looks of complete confusion, with the suggestion that the questioner should revisit his or her own capacity! As with many things, this is just part of “the new normal”. On 15 January 2021, the Senior President of Tribunals issued a memorandum which provided that with immediate effect “judges and members should strongly encourage the wearing of masks/face coverings by everyone in the hearing room, except for the judge/panel or a person who is directly addressing the tribunal”.

Physical attendance at tribunals is to be exceptional and only where it is necessary in the interests of justice, with as much being done remotely as is consistent with fairness and justice. It remains very much open to debate as to whether remote hearings are as effective as “in person” hearings. On a screen it is very difficult to properly assess the body language of a witness and without question, the gravitas of a court/tribunal is somewhat lost when everyone is on a screen. That’s without considering internet problems and the classic comment at some stage in the call, “You’re on mute!”  The show must go on as they say, the backlog needs to be worked through, but at what cost?

The contents of this article do not constitute legal advice and are provided for general information purposes only.

The contents of this post do not constitute legal advice and are provided for general information purposes only