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Witnesses

Someone found this blog a few minutes ago with the search ‘help! anyone tell me who’s responsible for calling witnesses to the employment tribunal.’

One purpose of this blog, and the book it supports, is to help people who aren’t lawyers find their way around the employment tribunal system – so we try not to assume any prior knowledge. But once in a while a search tips us off to something we’ve assumed is obvious, when actually it’s not.

The answer to this question is that any given witness can be called by either side, or by the tribunal itself. The latter almost never happens. (In fact, I’ve never heard of it happening. If you have, please leave a comment – I’d be very interested to hear about the circumstances.)

‘Calling’ a witness involves asking them to attend the hearing, and writing down the relevant information that they can tell the tribunal in a witness statement, which you will give to the other side a week or two before the hearing in exchange for sight of their witness statements; and then at the hearing, putting them forward to give evidence when you are presenting your case. You don’t need any special permission from the tribunal to call a witness to support your case: generally it will be left to you, though the tribunal may refuse to listen to witnesses whose evidence it considers irrelevant. If there’s a case management discussion, you will probably be asked how many witnesses you intend to call, and you may be asked to summarise what they will be able to tell the tribunal about.

You can ask the tribunal to order a witness to attend, but this is rarely a good idea unless the witness is basically willing to help, but needs an order e.g. so as to be able to persuade their employer to let them take the day off work. See this post on unwilling witnesses.

See generally the posts filed under the tags witnesses and statements – and do click through to ‘older posts,’ because this isn’t the kind of material that goes out of date.

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