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New presidential guidance for NI Tribunals (6 May 2022)


Mr Noel Kelly was appointed as the President of the Industrial Tribunals and Fair Employment Tribunal for Northern Ireland on 4 April 2022, taking over from Mrs Eileen McBride who retired.

Members will be aware that, due to Covid 19, the Tribunals Office has been working on a hybrid basis and at reduced capacity since March 2020. This has had a significant impact on the progress of cases.

On 6 May 2022, Mr Kelly issued his first Presidential Guidance aimed at increasing the disposal of business as rapidly (in line with risk assessments) as possible.

The key points are:

Killymeal House re-opens for in-person Hearings

  • On 25 April 2022, Killymeal House re-opened for in-person hearings. Adelaide House will no longer be used by the Tribunal.
  • Six rooms are now in use for Hearings and 3 rooms will be used to allow larger groups to attend via video conferencing technology.

Expedited Hearings

The Guidance allows for Hearings to be expedited so that an earlier Hearing date can be provided in certain circumstances. Reasons where this may be granted include:

  • previous postponements and consequent delay;
  • the physical or mental health of a party or witness;
  • financial difficulty of a party;
  • statutory appeals against prohibition notices, where for example a business has been or could be forced to close pending determination of the appeal by the tribunal; and
  • (v) the need to secure the availability of a relevant witness where that availability is limited. The decision whether or not to expedite a hearing is a judicial one

Public Attendance

  •  In keeping with the principles of open justice, provision has also been made for members of the public to attend Hearings. The weekly hearing schedule is published on the Tribunal’s website to facilitate this.
  • This will be welcome by those persons that wish to attend a Hearing as part of their development or in preparation for a case that they are involved in.

Case Management Preliminary Hearings

  • Case Management Preliminary Hearings will continue to be conducted by WebEx or telephone, unless there is a requirement for reasonable adjustments/special arrangements or where there are complex issues which require them to be conducted in person.


As a result of Mr Kelly’s new guidelines, we should begin to see cases progressing more quickly through the Tribunal, which will be welcome news for Members.

You can access the full document at: Presidential Guidance 6 May 2022

If any Member has any queries, please do not hesitate to contact the Legal Team.