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Silent witness

Vulnerable witnesses do not have to give oral evidence to employment tribunals, the Court of Appeal has ruled. 
Its guidance on correct procedure should be noted, says 
Anna Macey

16 August 2013

In Duffy v George [2013] EWCA Civ 908 the Court of Appeal provided guidance on the correct procedures an employment tribunal (ET) should adopt when a witness claims to be too frightened to be cross examined.

The appellant Michael Duffy, was accused by a fellow employee, Susannah George, of sexual harassment. She brought a claim before an employment tribunal against Mr Duffy himself, having previously settled her claim against her former employers.

Shortly before the hearing, Ms George requested an order she would not be required to attend the hearing because she was scared of Mr Duffy. Mr Duffy objected, making clear he wished to question her. The ET declined to make the order, and explained Ms George did not have to attend the hearing, but if she did not this would affect the weight that could be attached to her evidence.

At the hearing - which Ms George did not attend - the ET rejected most of her claims as not well founded. Howeve...

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