What to expect at a hearing

by Oct 9, 2021All Posts, Industrial Relations

An unfair dismissal hearing (or a determinative conference) is the final step if a situation cannot be resolved through the conciliation process and the application hasn’t been withdrawn. This is a legal proceeding that results in a clear outcome that must be upheld. The matter is resolved by a member of the Fair Work Commission. A determinative conference is a more informal, private version, whereas a hearing can be public. The Commission can only conduct a hearing if it considers it appropriate to do so, and it makes this decision after consulting the views of both parties and looking at whether a hearing is the most effective way to resolve the matter.

Before your hearing or conference

As with any legal proceeding you are entitled to representation. Assurance HR can help you with this. If you are representing yourself it’s important to be prepared to be cross-examined in the witness box, and question your own witnesses, and witnesses from the opposing side, as a lawyer would. It’s worth preparing your questions in advance, and practicing them if possible. The purpose of this witness evidence and cross-examination is to provide the Fair Work Commission Member with as much information as possible to make their decision.

How to prepare your questions

  • Make sure they’re questions, not statements, so the witness can answer them
  • Ask open-ended questions, not leading ones. For example, a leading question would be “You’re going to vote for President Trump, aren’t you?” while a non-leading question would be “Who are you going to vote for?”
  • Make sure they help tell the story about your matter based on the relevant sections of the Fair Work Act
  • Ensure they’re relevant, and are relevant and relate to events that the witness has first-hand knowledge of.

A formal proceeding such as this can be a confronting time. If this is happening to you, make sure you’re well prepared. Call Assurance HR today on 1800 577 515.

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