Smooth operation for ICM

PETALING JAYA: The Industrial Court’s move to implement e-Mention and e-Hearing is a step in the right direction as it helps clear backlogs and expedite disposal of cases, according to the court president and a lawyer.

The Industrial Court of Malaysia (ICM) president Datuk Rasidah Chik said e-Hearing and e-Mention were implemented to ensure speedy disposal of cases amid movement control restrictions in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.

Rasidah said the number of cases was anticipated to continue increasing until next year as more and more people were likely to lose their jobs.

“ICM is committed in facing the challenges due to the pandemic by embracing new norms in its work culture,” she said in a statement.

Among the initiatives include the implementation of e-Mention and e-Hearing.

Rasidah said when the movement control order was first imposed in March, cases fixed for hearing had to be deferred for almost three months.

Lawyer Datuk Thavalingam Thavarajah said his firm was the first to participate in the Industrial Court’s first virtual trial in July, involving unfair dismissal claim against an oil and gas company.

“It was a success, as witnesses from Kota Kinabalu, Labuan and London were able to provide their testimonies from remote locations.

“The e-Hearing proceedings were recorded and conducted for the trial, which was heard over the course of 10 trial dates,” he said when contacted.

Via e-Hearing, cases were being heard faster without undue delay, he noted.

“In conventional settings, hearings could to be delayed at times when witnesses are unable to be physically present in court.

“But via e-Hearing, we can address such delays, as litigants can stay in the comfort of their homes while giving testimonies to the industrial court,” he said.

Movement restrictions in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic and closed international borders were no longer an issue, as hearings could proceed as long as there were no connectivity issues.

“Proceedings can continue no matter where the litigants are,” he said.

However, proceedings via e-Hearing were only possible if all parties involved agreed to it, said Thavalingam.

“We can only proceed if both the lawyers and clients agreed,” he said.

Among the minor setbacks include time difference for witnesses who were staying abroad, and longer downloading time for large documents.

“And some witnesses may not have the facilities at home to proceed with e-Hearing,” he said.

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