We have had some interesting cases over the last few weeks concerning availability for hearings. Tribunal hearings can either be fixed by the Tribunal of its own making or following the parties providing their availability. If it is the later and there is then a problem, a postponement is near on impossible.
Even where the Tribunal fixes the hearing without consultation, it is often difficult to get a postponement especially when it is the representative who is unavailable. This can cause the client anxiety when there is a change of representative. In one such case recently the postponement was refused as they said Counsel could be instructed. Given the hearing had been postponed once before by another party and the solicitor had done all the prep this seemed particularly harsh and meant the client having to incur extra costs which did not seem to sit well with the overriding objective.
Contrast that with the handful of cases we have had this year which have been postponed by the Tribunal on the eve of the hearing due to a lack of judges. You will have read recently the Tribunal system is trying to redress this in its latest recruitment drive for additional judges. However understandable the postponement might be, it can cause long delays (sometimes more than 6 months) in getting another listing.
There are often time limits in applying for a postponement depending on the grounds so parties need to act quickly. We even had a request recently for representation in two working days but it is not possible (especially at this time of year) to prepare a case that quickly from scratch. Have you had similar postponement experiences…