Telephone CMDs

Case management discussions by telephone are increasingly common. Here are a few hints to get the most out of them:

  • Be on time. The tribunal will be just as unhappy if you are five minutes late to a telephone call as they would be if you were five minutes late to any other hearing.
  • Identify yourself. Unlike in a normal hearing the tribunal cannot deduce who you are by where you’re sitting. At the start of the hearing make sure you have explained who you are. If there is a chance of confusion later on, you should start your remarks by saying something like “Mr Rhodes for the claimant, Madam…”.
  • Speak in turn. Interrupting needs to be done carefully in all hearings, but is particularly problematic during a telephone call. If people speak at the same time it quickly becomes difficult to follow who is talking and what they’re saying. Unless it is absolutely necessary, wait for your turn. If it is absolutely necessary, indicate that you need to speak by saying something like “Sir, if I could interrupt for one moment” and wait to be acknowledged.
  • Talk to the other side beforehand. Unlike a normal CMD, you will not be able to speak to the respondent before the hearing or even have a whispered conversation during proceedings. Anything that needs to be discussed will need to have been discussed before the call starts.
  • Prepare an agenda. Telephone CMDs are a very good way of running briskly through an agreed agenda of points, but a bad way of sorting out what the agenda should be. So have a list of points that need to be dealt with, and try to agree it with the respondent before the hearing. If possible, send that proposed agenda to the tribunal in advance. If this is not possible try to spend some time at the beginning of the call setting it out clearly.
  • Make sure everyone has the relevant documents. One seriousness weakness of a telephone hearing is that there is no way of passing documents between the people involved. If the tribunal will need to see a document they must have it in advance. And everyone must be able to refer each other to the document they are talking about. This means an indexed and paginated bundle is vital.

One Reply to “Telephone CMDs”

  1. If your client and/or instructing solicitor are a long way from your office then they may choose to phone in from their own location rather than joining you for the telephone hearing. This can be convenient and can save travel time, but it creates problems if you need to take instructions about a point in the middle of the hearing. One solution is to agree with your client that you will both make sure you have access to email during the telephone hearing: you then have a private channel of communication if you need it.

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