e-bulletin No. 102 - May 2020
This e-Bulletin has been formulated having regard to Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020, as amended, the object of which is to deal with the public health risk of COVID-19 and its possible consequences.
Updated protocols and checklist for conducting telephone con/arbs and mediations
The Protocols for Telephone Conciliations, Arbitrations and Mediations, issued with
e-Bulletin No 98 on 20 March 2020, has been updated to address the following:
- Attendance of insurer representatives at con/arbs and mediations;
- Attendance of interpreters at con/arbs and mediations;
- Attendance of witnesses at con/arbs;
- Providing accurate and direct telephone numbers for con/arbs and mediations;
- Late notifications of changes to telephone contact numbers.
The Commission has also prepared a Guide for Legal Practitioners – How to Conduct Telephone Conciliations/Arbitrations and Mediations, which provides a checklist and guide for practitioners and parties.
I again remind legal practitioners of the importance of thorough preparation for telephone con/arbs and mediations including:
- Early notification to the Commission of the names and contact numbers of those attending on behalf of a party;
- Insurer representative attendance at con/arbs and mediations;
- Properly instructing counsel;
- Consulting with clients and holding client conferences well in advance of the listing; and
- Discussing the case with the other party prior to the telephone con/arb or mediation to narrow issues and to give the best opportunity to resolve the dispute
The Commission will conduct con/arbs and mediations by video conference in appropriate cases. If you are seeking a video conference, you should raise this with the arbitrator at the initial teleconference or with the Registrar. Video conferences will only be conducted where the parties and legal representatives have access to relevant equipment, are able to use the equipment, and each participant has access to adequate Internet connectivity.
I also draw your attention to the fees set by the Workers Compensation Independent Review Officer in support of the changes to the Commission’s practice and procedure, as outlined in Part 3 of WIRO Wire to Approved Lawyers – Covid-19 Operations Changes.
Dispute lodgments in the Commission continue to be steady and listings remain strong. It requires all of us to continue to put significant effort into preparation and participation to resolve disputes, particularly given the restrictions. While we have had some problems with our telephone conference provider, as they adjust to an increased workload, parties have been patient and understanding. That consideration, ongoing support and commitment are appreciated.
Judge Gerard Phillips