SAET news





Electronic access to summonsed materials trial

SAET is currently trialling a new process to access summonsed materials electronically.  We are using Kiteworks, a South Australian Government approved website that enables the secure transfer of electronic files.
Summonsed material provided to SAET by email from 29 June 2020 will be accessed by the parties through Kiteworks. If a party does not have authority to copy the documents, the documents must be inspected at SAET.
SAET will provide parties with a link to the secure website. Instructions about how to access the materials using Kiteworks will be provided to parties in each case.
Where the summonsed material is not provided to SAET electronically parties will continue to be required to attend the Registry to copy or view the material.





New Fast Track Stream Rules

On 18 June 202O, new SAET Fast Track Stream Rules were published in the South Australian Government Gazette. The Rules are effective immediately.

The Honourable Justice Steven Dolphin

President
South Australian Employment Tribunal







Attendances at SAET – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic responses – 11 June 2020

As from Monday 15 June 2020, the Tribunal will start a period of transition from some of the practices adopted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in line with governmental guidelines, some of the practices adopted will remain in place as measures to reduce the need for personal attendances at the Tribunal and to ensure safe social distancing in the precincts, waiting areas, conference rooms and courtrooms of the Tribunal’s two floors.

Matters before Commissioners

  • Initial directions hearings     
  • Expedited decision hearings            
  • Public sector grievances                   

Will continue to be conducted be teleconference or videoconference and the parties and representatives are not required to attend the Tribunal. Please ensure that the Tribunal is provided with contact details for all participants. Representatives are to ensure that they have instructions prior to the hearing and that they are able to obtain updated instructions during the hearing as may be required. The provision of consent orders via email prior to the hearing is strongly encouraged.

  • Conciliation conferences

Subject to any subsequent order, Conciliation conferences already listed to be conducted by teleconference or videoconference will continue to be conducted that way. The challenges the Tribunal faces for conducting Conciliation conferences in person are the size and adequacy of the conference rooms and the requirements to ensure safe social distancing in the corridors and waiting areas of Level 6. However, in limited circumstances where personal attendances are required, a Conciliation conference may be held in person after consultation with the parties and their representatives.

Matters before Presidential Members

  • Pre-hearing conferences                  
  • Directions hearings                           

Will continue to be conducted by teleconference or videoconference and the parties and representatives are not required to attend the Tribunal. Please ensure that the Tribunal is provided with contact details for all participants. Representatives are to ensure that they have instructions prior to the hearing and that they are able to obtain updated instructions during the hearing as may be required. The provision of consent orders via email prior to the hearing is strongly encouraged. In specific circumstances as ordered by the Presidential member, such hearings may be subject to the same arrangements for Settlement conferences as below.

  • Settlement conferences

Subject to any subsequent order, Settlement conferences already listed to be conducted by teleconference or videoconference will continue to be conducted that way. Presidential members will give consideration to listing future Settlement conferences with personal attendances. Where possible and practical, Settlement conferences will be conducted in a courtroom. Settlement conferences will not be conducted in chambers. Issues for consideration will be the availability of courtroom and/or conference room space and safe social distancing in the corridors and waiting areas of Level 7.

  • Compliance conferences                   same as for Settlement conferences.
  • Callovers        

As per the communique of 18 March 2020, the arrangement put in place for callovers will remain. Parties and representatives are not to attend the callover. No later than 2business days prior to the callover, the representatives are to contact the Tribunal to advise whether the matter will be resolved by consent or if it is agreed that the hearing should be vacated for other good reason. If the matter is to proceed to a hearing, the Tribunal is to be advised whether the matter could be heard and determined on the papers. Contact with the Tribunal in this regard will be by saet@sa.gov.au with the subject heading “Callover [date of call-over], [name of parties], [case number(s)]”.

  • Hearings and appeals

As per the communique of 18 May 2020, the mode of the hearing of any particular case, including appeals, will be at the discretion of the Presidential member(s) involved. The hearing of cases on the papers, whether in part or in full, will still be a consideration so as to minimise attendances at the Tribunal. The use of audio or visual technology during a hearing will also remain as a consideration so as to minimise attendances at the Tribunal. With all hearings, the Presidential members will exercise their own discretion in determining whether the hearing can safely proceed and if so what measures will be put in place to ensure the safety of the Presidential member, staff and participants in the process.

  • Review

These arrangements will be subject to ongoing review.

We will continue to review our position in accordance with changing circumstances, updated Australian and State government protocols and the advice of health experts. ;

The Honourable Justice Steven Dolphin

President
South Australian Employment Tribunal







Practice Direction – The witnessing of affidavits during the COVID-19 pandemic (28 April 2020)

Since the beginning of the changed circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Registry has accepted unsworn affidavits. In order to clarify what is expected and to ensure that there is minimal confusion and consistency of approach, the South Australian Employment Tribunal will adopt the Practice Note of the Supreme Court and District Court of 16 April 2020, as below:

The question as to how to witness affidavits during the current situation has been raised, given that deponents may be in social isolation, quarantine or vulnerable persons.

It is not appropriate for an oath to be taken via video link. Affidavits must continue to be witnessed in person, with appropriate safety precautions in place.

However, if for health or logistical reasons this is not possible, a solicitor should exhibit the deponent’s unsworn affidavit to his/her own affidavit, with an undertaking to file the sworn original once it is possible to have it sworn.

The solicitor’s affidavit should attest to:

  1. the reasons why it was not possible for the exhibited affidavit to be sworn by the deponent;
  2. the unsworn document has been prepared on the instructions of the deponent;
  3. the deponent has read the document and agrees with its content; and,
  4. upon it becoming possible to do so, the deponent will swear/affirm the document.

If the solicitor’s affidavit is filed unsworn, the solicitor is taken to have given an undertaking that the contents are true and correct.

Dated this 28th day of April 2020.

The Honourable Justice Steven Dolphin

President
South Australian Employment Tribunal



Dust Disease cases: Urgent teleconference hearings with regards to the plaintiff’s evidence in response to the Covid-19 pandemic – 25 March 2020

Prior to the teleconference hearing

Where possible the plaintiff’s evidence-in-chief should be by way of affidavit. Any documents that are to be referred to in the teleconference hearing by any party must be filed and served at least two clear business days before the teleconference hearing commences. Upon receipt by the Court they will be marked for identification by the Judge. The parties will be advised by the Judge’s chambers of the MFI number of each document, for example MFI (P) 1, MFI (D1) 2, MFI (D2) 3 etc.

At the teleconference hearing

The plaintiff’s evidence will be taken at the teleconference hearing which will be recorded through appropriate arrangements with Sparke and Cannon. Only the plaintiff’s lawyers will be physically present with the plaintiff. The plaintiff’s counsel will be responsible for taking appropriate steps to ensure safe social distancing. The Judge and the other parties will participate in the hearing by telephone. None of the parties will attend personally before the Judge.

When the teleconference hearing begins, the Judge will remind the parties that this is a formal court process and that the proceedings will be recorded. The Judge will then invite the plaintiff’s counsel, as an officer of the Court, to certify that the person who is about to give evidence is the plaintiff in the proceedings and that the documents to be referred to in the hearing are a true and accurate copy of documents previously marked for identification.

The plaintiff will be sworn in by affirmation. The plaintiff’s affidavit, previously marked for identification, if adopted by the plaintiff, will then be formally tendered. The plaintiff’s counsel may, with leave of the Judge, then ask some supplementary questions and may through that process apply to tender other documents, previously marked for identification.

The other parties will then be permitted to cross-examine the plaintiff and through that process may apply to tender other documents, previously marked for identification. In that event, the tendering counsel will identify the document, such as “the plaintiff’s employment record with Acme Industries marked for identification MFI (D1) 2.” The plaintiff’s counsel will then hand the document to the plaintiff stating for the transcript, “the document I have handed to the plaintiff is the document marked for identification MFI (D1) 2.”

Once the plaintiff’s evidence has been completed, and to enable sufficient time for the transcript to be provided to the parties, the matter will be referred to a teleconference directions hearing approximately one week later. At that directions hearing any issues regarding the transcript and the further scheduling of the hearing will be dealt with.

The Honourable Justice Steven Dolphin

President
South Australian Employment Tribunal









Attendances at SAET – the evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic – 18 March 2020

As is well-known, we are currently operating in a rapidly changing environment due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

I am cognisant of recent measures taken by other courts and tribunals which have been designed to reduce the need for personal attendances in civil litigation matters and to ensure safe social distancing. My directions below have the same purpose in mind. Further to my communication dated 16 March 2020, I now advise that the following measures will be in place from Thursday 19 March 2020 until Thursday 9 April 2020. We will continue to review our position in accordance with changing circumstances, updated Australian and State government protocols and the advice of health experts.

Matters before Commissioners

  • Initial directions hearings – to be conducted by telephone
  • Expedited decision hearings – to be conducted by telephone
  • Conciliation conferences – to be conducted by telephone
  • Public sector grievances – to beconducted by telephone

In matters to be conducted by telephone, the parties and representatives are not required to attend the Tribunal. Please ensure that the Tribunal is provided with telephone contact details for all participants. Representatives are to ensure that they have instructions prior to the telephone attendance and that they are able to obtain updated instructions during the telephone attendance as may be required. The provision of orders sought by consent via email prior to the telephone attendance is strongly encouraged.

Matters before Presidential Members

  • Pre-hearing conferences – to be conducted by telephone
  • Directions hearings – to be conducted by telephone
  • Compliance conferences – to be conducted by telephone
  • Settlement conferences – to be conducted by telephone

In matters to be conducted by telephone, the parties and representatives are not required to attend the Tribunal. Please ensure that the Tribunal is provided with telephone contact details for all participants. Representatives are to ensure that they have instructions prior to the telephone attendance and that they are able to obtain updated instructions during the telephone attendance as may be required. The provision of orders sought by consent via email prior to the telephone attendance is strongly encouraged.

Callovers        

Parties and representatives are not to attend the callover. No later than 2business days prior to the callover, the representatives are to contact the Tribunal to advise whether the matter will be resolved by consent or if it is agreed that the hearing should be vacated for other good reason. If the matter is to proceed to a hearing, the Tribunal is to be advised whether the matter could be heard and determined on the papers. Contact with the Tribunal in this regard will be at saet@sa.gov.au with the subject heading “Callover [date of call-over], [name of parties], [case number(s)]”.

Hearings

If possible, matters may be heard and determined on the papers. If so, the Presidential member may make further directions and orders to facilitate that mode of hearing. If that is not possible and attendance at the Tribunal is required, the Presidential member will exercise his or her own discretion in determining whether the hearing can safely proceed and if so what measures will be put in place to ensure the safety of the Presidential member, staff and participants in the process.

Part-heard hearings

In part-heard matters, the Presidential member hearing the matter will exercise his or her own discretion in determining whether the matter could proceed, either in part or in full, on the papers. If that is not possible and attendance at the Tribunal is required, the Presidential member will exercise his or her own discretion in determining whether the hearing can safely proceed and if so what measures will be put in place to ensure the safety of the Presidential member, staff and participants in the process. ful Accent

Appeals

If possible, appeals may be heard and determined on the papers. If so, the Head of the Full Bench may make further directions and orders to facilitate that mode of hearing. If that is not possible and attendance at the Tribunal is required, the Head of the Full Bench in consultation with the other members of the Full Bench, will exercise his or her own discretion in determining whether the hearing can safely proceed and if so what measures will be put in place to ensure the safety of the Presidential members, staff and participants in the process.

Given the measures as set out above some disruption and rescheduling is inevitable. I apologise in advance for any inconveniences that may be experienced.

The Honourable Justice Steven Dolphin

President
South Australian Employment Tribunal



16 March 2020SAET Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

As President of the South Australian Employment Tribunal (SAET), I have a responsibility for the wellbeing of SAET staff, members and users of the Tribunal. I am particularly mindful of this responsibility given the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

While there have so far been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at SAET, it is important we prepare for that possibility and for other circumstances that might impact how SAET provides its services.

Our COVID-19 action planning is based on 3 key principles:

  • minimise the risk to the wellbeing of staff, members, Tribunal users and the broader community;
  • continue to operate business as usual for as long as circumstances permit; and
  • be guided by Australian and State government protocols and the advice of health experts.

SAET is also aware of organisations that have already taken their own steps in response to events to minimise and prepare for the outbreak.

In accordance with our COVID-19 action planning principles, SAET encourages staff, members and Tribunal users to keep up-to-date with the latest medical advice and official reports available from the Department of Health (see www.health.gov.au) so that they can make informed decisions that best suit their own personal circumstances.

Effective Immediately

At the time of sending this correspondence, to limit the spread of coronavirus:

  • SAET asks that any party or representative who meets the ‘who needs to isolate?’ criteria in the Department of Health’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) isolation guidance:
    • NOT ATTEND a SAET conference or hearing; and
    • contact SAET to make alternative arrangements.
  • SAET encourages all parties and representatives to practise good hygiene to protect against infections. Good hygiene includes:
    • washing your hands often with soap and water;
    • using a tissue and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze;
    • avoiding close contact with others, such as touching.
  • SAET encourages parties, where there is agreement, to seek orders and directions by email.
  • By request, or at SAET’s initiative, conferences and hearings will be conducted by telephone.
  • SAET will hold all face-to-face conferences and hearings in hearing or conference rooms to maintain social distancing.
  • SAET will cease providing shared-use water jugs in hearing rooms.

Future Actions

Circumstances, government policy and advice regarding COVID-19 are rapidly changing. SAET will continue to monitor circumstances and take further action as required in order to contain the spread of the virus.

Justice Steven Dolphin

President

South Australian Employment Tribunal