What to expect at a telephone hearing
Telephone hearings are a common way for tribunals to resolve matters. If the hearing will take place by telephone conference call, the tribunal will set the time, date, and place or contact information for the hearing and notify the parties. If a party who has been notified does not participate, the adjudicator may proceed with the hearing and make a decision without hearing from that party. A telephone hearing follows the same procedure as In-person Hearings. Telephone hearings are different from a telephone conference that an adjudicator may set up in the early stages of the process to try to resolve the dispute through case management techniques.
The tribunal you are dealing with will establish the procedure for a telephone hearing. The first things you should do to prepare for your hearing are described in the Preparing for a Hearing section of this website. You should always read the self-help information on the tribunal’s website or call the tribunal’s office to ask for information about the process. Search the BC Admin Law Directory to find a website link or contact information for the tribunal that interests you.
How to make an effective presentation
The usual steps in a tribunal hearing by telephone are the same as an in-person hearing:
- Preliminary matters
- Opening statements
- Submission of evidence
- Closing argument
As with in-person hearings, you can call witnesses to give evidence that supports your case. Just as a witness cannot be in the hearing room before he or she gives evidence, a witness in a telephone hearing cannot usually join the conference call until it is time for them to give evidence. The adjudicator will try to ensure that witnesses do not hear each other’s evidence ahead of time.
The witness will be asked to swear or affirm to tell the truth. In some cases, the witness will be asked to go to a government agent’s office. The agent will be present during the witness’s testimony to verify that no one else is in the room while the witness is giving evidence over the telephone.
After the hearing
The adjudicator may make a decision by giving an oral decision at the end of the hearing and tell you how the matter has been decided. Alternatively, the adjudicator may tell you that he or she will make a decision later and the tribunal registry will mail a written decision to you.
What if you don’t agree with the decision?
If you don’t agree with the adjudicator’s decision in your case, you can sometimes have the decision reviewed. Some tribunals, such as the WorkSafe BC have their own internal review process, followed by an appeal to an independent tribunal called the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal.
Some tribunals’ decisions may be appealed to the courts by a process called “judicial review”. The fact that you do not agree with the adjudicator’s decision is not a reason that entitles you to review by the court – you must show that the adjudicator’s process was flawed or that the adjudicator made an error of law, jurisdiction, or fairness.
The Justice Education Society has published a Judicial Review Guidebook that provides more information on this matter. You can learn more about judicial review at the Supreme Court Self Help website.