Whether or not an Employment Tribunal has the power to remove a judgment from the online register was the subject of a recent case.
Miss Ameyaw had brought claims against her employer, PWC Ltd. At a preliminary hearing PWC applied to strike out the claims on the basis of what it described as Miss Ameyaw's "scandalous and vexatious" behaviour in a previous closed preliminary hearing.
Although Miss Ameyaw's conduct at the previous hearing was described as, at times, "uncontrolled and unacceptable" the Employment Judge did not consider it had endangered the possibility of a future fair hearing and duly dismissed PWC's application. The judgment dismissing PWC's application was entered onto the register and published online.
A year later, Miss Ameyaw applied to have the judgment removed from the online register or for an anonymity order to be granted. She argued that the tribunal had breached her right to respect for private and family life provided by Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights (Article 8 ECHR).
Miss Ameyaw's applications were rejected by both the Employment Tribunal (ET) and later by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).
The EAT held that the Tribunal had no power to remove a judgment from the register and while a tribunal does have the power to provide parties with anonymity in certain circumstances, there was no basis for overruling the principle of open justice in this case.
The judge also found that Article 8 EHCR did not apply as Miss Ameyaw had known that the hearing in question was a public hearing and therefore had no expectation of privacy. Even if Article 8 had been engaged, the EAT held that "the fact that the record of the proceedings, published without restriction, might be 'painful, humiliating, or deterrent' would not, of itself, mean that it should not be made public."
This case confirms that a tribunal does not have the power to remove judgments from the register. While a tribunal does have the power to provide parties with anonymity, an order to this effect will only be made in very limited circumstances.
Employers and employees alike should remember that the general position is that all judgments and written reasons will be made available online. Both should consider the potential risk of reputational damage caused by the publication of a judgment when contemplating and conducting litigation and managing employee relations.