Practice Direction on Electronic Hearings

Practice Directions support the Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT) Rules of Procedure and provide guidance about what the SBT expects of the parties and, in turn, what the parties can expect from the SBT. They assist in understanding the Rules.


An electronic hearing means a hearing held by conference telephone or some other form of electronic hearing technology allowing persons to hear one another, and includes hearings conducted by video conference.

In an electronic hearing, all the parties and the members of the SBT participating in the hearing must be able to hear one another and any witnesses throughout the hearing.

An electronic hearing before the SBT is to be held in private and the proceedings of the SBT at such a hearing are confidential. Only the parties to a hearing can participate in an electronic hearing. Parties in electronic hearings must make arrangements to ensure that the privacy and confidentiality of the hearing are maintained at their premises.

During the progress of a hearing the SBT may determine that another hearing format would be more appropriate and may direct that the hearing be rescheduled accordingly.

When an Electronic Hearing May Be Held

The SBT may hold an electronic hearing to determine:

In deciding to hold an electronic hearing the SBT may consider any relevant factors, including:

Notice of Electronic Hearing

A Notice of Electronic Hearing will be sent to the parties and will contain:

Objections to Electronic Hearings Rule 7.9

The SBT will not hold an electronic hearing to decide matters other than procedural issues if it is satisfied that such a hearing would likely cause significant prejudice to a party.

A party who objects to an electronic hearing must give notice of objection using the procedure set out in Rule 7.9 of the SBT Rules of Procedure:

Effect of Failure to Participate in Electronic Hearing

If the person appealing fails, without reasonable cause, to be available for the hearing, the SBT may proceed in the absence of the party, and the party is not entitled to receive any further notice of the proceedings.

Written Submissions and Documents

Parties must comply with the same disclosure requirements as for an oral hearing. Written submissions and documents must be served on the other party and filed with the SBT in advance of the hearing in accordance with the SBT's Rules of Procedure and the relevant disclosure provisions in the Regulations.

Effective as of January 1, 2016