Gloria Mills, Lay Member, Employment Appeals Tribunal

Why would you encourage someone to apply for this role?

The role is an important judicial office. The Employment Appeals Tribunal plays an important role in the administration of justice for working people. It delivers workplace justice. It also creates important precedents and principles of law in all areas of employment, for example, covering all areas of employment, equality, trade union, pension, health and safety and workplace rights.

It has a key role in redressing injustice at work. Retaining access to justice and confidence in our justice system is fundamental in our democracy. Moreover, it is important that the EAT reflects the diverse representation of the United Kingdom, attract under-represented groups and commands the confidence of all sections of our community and country.

Your experience, knowledge and skills of trade unions, employment and industrial relations, human resources and workplace practices will be an asset in adding value to the cohesive functioning and efficacy of the Employment Appeal Tribunal. You will be supported with full judicial training and access to resources to help you in this role.

What would the average sitting day an Tribunal look like?

The average sitting day starts at 10.00am and finishes at 4.30pm depending on the complexity and nature of the case. Good advance preparation is vital for the hearing. The Tribunal members would normally receive the papers, at least a week prior to the hearing and would have read the core bundles, the Claimants and Respondent’s skeleton arguments, and familiarised themselves with the Employment Tribunal’s reasons, findings facts and how it applied the law and legal principles to the case. The EAT deals with principles of law so reading the core bundle is essential preparation for the sitting day.

A pre-meeting discussion of the EAT panel precedes the formal EAT hearing on the day which starts promptly at 10.30. This is an important opportunity to check the panel has all the documents and have a preliminary discussion on the legal principles of the case. A key feature of the EAT is that it is a formal Court but not over-powering for the Parties – advocates or litigants in person.

The parties – Claimant(s) and Respondent(s) are invited to present their case and the Tribunal Judge and member intervene with questions.  Following completion by the parties, the Tribunal adjourns to consider the submissions, legal principles, citations of case law and decide the outcome. The Judge completes the written decisions and judgment as most EAT judgments are handed down on the day.  Reserved judgments are written up with full discussion, contributions and reasons from the panel and judgment is handed down as soon as possible.

How do you balance the role with your other commitments?

Effective planning and time management are important. It is good to allocate time for sittings and most sittings are agreed and scheduled weeks in advance. You are in control of managing your flexibility and organising your diary so select dates that are suitable to you and you can definitely attend. I plan, prepare and prioritise hearings so they do not impact on my other commitments. Sitting days are agreed in advance and organised for fixed days in the diary.  These are dedicated days so balancing the role with other commitments is simple to manage.  The key is to plan, prepare and prioritise.

What are the most interesting/challenging parts of the role?

There are many interesting and challenging parts to the role. The cases vary in complexity and you keep abreast of changes to employment relations, new norms and practices in the workplace. This requires careful, independent and impartial thought, being fair and open-minded. There are new forms of working in the world of work so there are new challenges and new perspectives to consider. It enhances learning and listening; weighing up conflicting arguments to make fair, incisive and objective decisions.

An interesting part is to contribute to an independent decision-making process that instil public confidence in the judiciary that justice is done. It is an interesting role that transforms the thought process and the way you think engaging new way of thinking, exercising independence of mind – seeing the bigger and fuller picture. It is a cognitive and expansive thought process. The training sessions with presentations from judicial experts is both interesting and challenging. It is good to be familiar with the Nolan Principles, which apply to anyone who works as a public office-holder.