Dan Brown involved in a ‘Paperless’ tribunal hearing in London Central ET as part of their pilot scheme

3PB Employment Barrister, Dan Brown, has in the last few days taken part in a pilot being run by London Central Employment Tribunal. The pilot is for ‘paperless’ proceedings.

Dan's hearing was a five day final hearing involving nine witnesses and concerning claims of race and disability discrimination. Dan was only informed that the hearing would be paperless on the first day of the hearing itself and so if you have a hearing in London Central shortly you could find that you are also are asked to take part in this paperless pilot scheme.

Dan reports that it was a somewhat surreal experience to see that in addition to the typical water jugs, plastic cups and tissues, there were dedicated touch screens made available for the use of each party.

Apparently, everything was done during the hearing via the touchpads provided, including submissions and case law. The benefits of such a system are evidently numerous, especially in an age where concerns about GDPR and the environment are prevalent. However, how effectively we as tribunal users can transition from the familiar paper system to an effective electronic system remains to be seen.

Of course, ‘paperless’ hearings themselves are not entirely new. They have been introduced and utilised (to a greater or lesser extent) in other jurisdictions for some time now.  In that respect, it could be said that the tribunal system is somewhat behind the technological curve.

However, as we all know, hearings in the Employment Tribunal are invariably heavily reliant on documentary evidence and so the ease with which we can navigate between various documents in the bundle and the witness statements on a touchscreen will clearly be of crucial importance.

Dan’s experience we understand was a mixed one. His top tip is to avoid 'a's and b's' in the pagination as that can send the PDF pagination out. Whilst there will inevitably be some initial / teething difficulties to overcome, we look forward to seeing the results of this pilot (when published) and whether the way in which we currently operate both in tribunal and outside (lugging around numerous lever arch files across the country) may shortly become a thing of the past.