What are witness orders?
Written by Mekael Rahman on 20 October 2015« Return to Reading Room
If an employment related dispute progresses to the Employment Tribunal, the judge (and any specialist panel members) would have construe the facts of the case and apply the relevant law. The evidence that is presented to the Employment Tribunal will determine whether the case will succeed or fail. There are two main forms of evidence, namely, documentary evidence and witness evidence. The former can comprise transcripts of meetings, emails, audio recordings and databases. The latter consists of evidence that witnesses give regarding the pertinent events. Witnesses are therefore crucial for the proper determination of cases; they provide the Employment Tribunal with imperative information as to what exactly transpired and how they perceived the particular incident.
However, a potential witness in a case may refuse to give evidence. In such a scenario, a witness order can be issued by the Employment Tribunal, compelling them to attend the hearing and furnish the apposite information. An order can be made by the Tribunal if they choose to exercise their power in this regard or through an application by one of the parties. If a party intends on making an application for a witness order, they must satisfy certain requirements i.e. make the application well before the date of the hearing and include their reasons for seeking the order. One should appreciate that when such applications are made it is not necessary to inform the other party.
It is not obligatory for a witness to produce a written statement for their evidence, although this is preferable for obvious reasons. This could be a tactical move as the other side would not know what the witness will divulge when cross-examination takes place.
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