e-bulletin No. 98 - March 2020
Protocols for telephone conciliations, arbitrations and mediations
Yesterday, I announced in response to the escalation of the COVID-19 epidemic that the Workers Compensation Commission would implement procedural changes to our operations, namely, conducting conciliation/arbitrations (con/arbs) and mediations by telephone. The reasons for this are obvious – it allows the Commission to continue to deliver our important work but ensures, to the extent that we can, the health and wellbeing of our staff, arbitrators, mediators, parties, legal representatives and others who use our services.
While I expect that conducting con/arbs and mediations by telephone will pose new challenges not experienced in face-to-face conferences, these are extraordinary times which call for extraordinary measures. It is clearly in the interests of injured works and legal representatives that the Commission remains open for business and I expect cooperation, respect and genuine participation from all involved.
For a number of legal practitioners, particularly counsel, conducting proceedings by telephone will be something new. I ask that you persevere; the Commission has been doing a large part of its business by telephone since it first opened its doors, with outstanding results.
To assist you during this period, we have prepared the following protocol document, which provides a guide to participating in telephone con/arbs and mediations. I implore you to review and understand the document.
With patience and good will we will get through this together. As I said in my message yesterday, when the crisis is over we will return to the normal practices of the Commission.
Judge Gerard Phillips