Labour Court to rely on ‘combination of physical and virtual courtrooms’

Labour Court to rely on 'combination of physical and virtual courtrooms'

Kevin Foley

The Labour Court has said it will continue to rely on a “combination of physical courtrooms and virtual courtrooms” in the medium term.

The court began remotely hearing appeals and referrals to the court at the start of June and expects to re-open some physical courtrooms in July.

Kevin Foley, chairman of the Labour Court, said: “The critical issue for the court in making arrangements for the hearing of disputes in the current situation has been to ensure fairness and correctness of procedure so that all users can make their case to the court and respond to any case made against them.

“We are satisfied that the virtual courtrooms we have created meet that standard. We expect that for the medium term, court hearings will be delivered using a combination of physical courtrooms and virtual courtrooms.”

Mr Foley thanked trade unions, employer representative bodies and members of the legal profession for helping the court to introduce remote hearings from 2 June 2020.

A limited number of courtrooms in the Lansdowne House building will return to operational use next month, but Mr Foley said the limited physical courtroom space will only be made available to appeals and referrals not suitable for hearing remotely.

“The court is anxious to restore a capacity, however limited, to hear appeals in a physical courtroom as soon as possible,” he said, “and to that end we are working extremely hard to deliver best practice compliance with Return to Work Safely protocols.”

Mr Foley made the remarks while launching the Labour Court’s annual report for 2019, which shows that the court received 1,182 appeals and referrals under the various statutes within its jurisdiction in 2019, a small increase on the previous year.

The court expects similar volumes of referrals and appeals in 2020 and has noted that the rate of appeal and referral has not decreased significantly throughout the current COVID-19 crisis.

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