If you have an employment tribunal hearing coming up and you want one of your witnesses to be able to give evidence via video link from abroad, there are specific steps you now need to take in order to be able to do this (and you should do this as early on in the proceedings as possible).
During the pandemic there were a huge increase in remote and hybrid hearings and parties became familiar with witnesses giving evidence from home, including where home was outside of the jurisdiction. Tribunals were generally happy to allow this. However a case in October 2021 put the brakes on this permissive approach and parties must now seek permission to rely on oral evidence by video from a witness who is not in the UK (or a Crown Dependency or British Overseas Territory).
In those circumstances, permission must be sought from the jurisdiction where the witness will be giving evidence from. It is the responsibility of the party who requires the witness to raise this issue with the court/tribunal.
The Employment Tribunal issued presidential guidance on 27 April 2022 (updated 25 July 2022) setting out what steps to take in such circumstances.
If you are concerned about how long the enquiries are taking or any conditions imposed on the permission, you should raise this with the tribunal as soon as possible so it can consider whether any additional case management is necessary.
A note of caution: This is a very new process and it can be extremely slow. It is hoped that over time it will become quicker as more information is available as to which jurisdictions permit witnesses in their jurisdiction giving oral evidence in a UK employment tribunal. For now though, parties are encouraged to raise this issue as early as possible with the tribunal to ensure hearings are not delayed or disrupted.
Parties should refer to the Presidential Guidance on this topic, as well as any other updated guidance that is published.