Employment Tribunals have new powers to ban reporting of any aspect of proceedings

New rules restricting reports of Employment Tribunals have been introduced.

The Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2013 enable tribunals to make orders in a wider range of circumstances. 

They can now ban reporting of any aspects of the proceedings, either in the interests of justice or to protect someone’s human rights in cases involving:

a)     National security.

b)     Evidence that contains information that the witness cannot reveal without breaking a law or breaching a confidence.

c)     Information that could cause substantial injury to the employer’s interests in some circumstances.

The new orders go further than just restricting reports.

They can force all or part of a hearing to be held in private, and suppress publication of the identities witnesses or other people involved in the case. They can also ban the reporting of specific details that could lead to someone’s identification.

The order can be passed before, or during a hearing, and the press can challenge it.

If an order is passed, it must be posted on the tribunal notice board and on the door of the room where it is taking place.

In the past, tribunals only had the power to sit in private in a) – c) above. And they were able to restrict the identities of people involved in sexual harassment or disability cases.

The press can challenge the new restrictions on a point of law, in the interests of justice, or to ensure freedom of expression under article 10 under the ECHR.

They must apply in writing, for permission to make the challenge. If consent is given, the challenge can be made in person or in writing.

Cleland Thom is a consultant in media law

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