On 16 January 2014, the President of the Employment Tribunals in Scotland issued guidance in relation to applications for postponements of hearings under the Employment Tribunal Rules 2013. A Tribunal judge has the power to postpone a hearing and either party can apply for a postponement. This is a situation which arises from time to time for a wide variety of reasons including where a representative has only been instructed very shortly before a hearing, the ill-health of a party to the proceeding or a witness and where documents have been disclosed only very late in the day. As such, it is very useful to have guidance from the Tribunal as to their expectations where such an application is made.
The new guidance provides information on postponements including:
- further details on how to make a postponement application and the supporting information required;
- examples of situations where a party might be seeking to postpone a hearing; including ill health, the withdrawal of a representative, late disclosure of documents, the existence of criminal or other civil proceedings and the information and supporting documentation required in each case; and
- how the employment judge should deal with the application.
The President of the Employment Tribunals in England and Wales issued guidance on this matter back in December, but there are a number of differences between the guidance issued in England and Wales and the Scottish guidance, including:
- in the Scottish guidance there is generally more detail on the information required where a postponement application is made including in relation to ill health and also in relation to where witnesses or representatives are unavailable;
- where there's a risk that evidence in the Tribunal may overlap with criminal proceedings, the Scottish guidance provides that the employment proceedings should be delayed to avoid prejudicing the criminal case. The guidance in England and Wales is silent on this issue; and
- the guidance in England and Wales requires the party applying for the postponement to discuss the application with the other parties or legal representatives before making the formal application, whereas the Scottish guidance only requires discussions to take place where the other party is legally represented.
The Scottish Presidential Guidance comes into force on 1 February and is available here.
The guidance issued in England and Wales is already in force.