On this page:

  • Attending a Disputes Tribunal hearing
  • What to expect at a Disputes Tribunal hearing
  • Checklist of what to bring to a Disputes Tribunal hearing

If you are an applicant who has not received leave to appear by telephone, and if you do not attend the hearing in person, then you run the risk of your claim being dismissed. Similarly, respondents run the risk of an order being made against them if they do not appear either in person or by telephone.

You should contact the Disputes Tribunal as soon as possible if you are unable to attend a hearing. The Tribunal may postpone the hearing for a time. 

What to expect at a Disputes Tribunal hearing

There are no lawyers or judges in Disputes Tribunal hearings. The person in charge is called a ‘Referee’. That person is carefully selected and trained to help disputants either settle their disputes or otherwise make a determination. A ‘determination’ is a decision about the dispute about what should happen, like a judgment. See the part of this text about remedies in the Disputes Tribunal for more about the kinds of determinations you might expect.

See the chapter on attending a trial for more about how your Disputes Tribunal hearing might play out and how you could go about presenting your case. However, keep in mind that a Disputes Tribunal hearing is generally less formal than a court hearing or trial, and that a Tribunal referee may take on a more investigative role than you might expect of a judge. For instance, if the referee considers he or she needs more information about the case than has been put forward at the hearing then the hearing might be adjourned and an independent investigator appointed to report on the matter. You would not have to pay for any such investigation and report if one was commissioned.

Any attempt by a referee to encourage the parties to settle is an additional factor that you would not ordinarily expect during a hearing in a court. In that regard, see the chapter on settlements for more about settlements in general.

Checklist of what to bring to a Disputes Tribunal hearing

It may be appropriate for you to bring the following items with you to a hearing in the Disputes Tribunal:

1. A copy of your claim form.

2. Any synopsis of argument and bundle of documents you have prepared, as well as copies for the Referee and every other party if you have not already disclosed these.

3. Originals of the documents you are relying on as evidence (in addition to any copies or bundles of copied documents).

4. Any witnesses in support of your position.

5. Any (small and easily transportable) physical evidence that is not a document or a witness and may be helpful.

6. Your bank account details for any payments to be made to you or, if you think you might end up agreeing or having to make payments to someone else, your bank details and the name and contact information for any employer of yours.

7. Any support person or representative.