Information For Witnesses At An Fpslreb Videoconference Hearing

If you are to be a witness at a hearing conducted virtually using a videoconferencing platform over the Internet, this document will help you understand your role and responsibilities. Please read it carefully.

Your counsel or representative will provide your email address to the Registry of the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board (FPSLREB), which will ensure that you receive all the information you need to join the virtual hearing using Zoom Pro or another agreed upon videoconferencing platform. You must not share this information.

Any questions that a witness may have about the hearing or videoconference process should be addressed to the representative calling the witness (e.g., the employer’s counsel or a grievor representative) and not to the FPSLREB.

  • A. Rules for testifying

    • 1. Your obligation as a witness is to be truthful with the FPSLREB member. Although you might be in your home or office when you testify, you are fulfilling the same role as if you were sitting before the member. You must approach this task with the same degree of seriousness and solemnity as you would if you testified in person in a courtroom.

    • 2. Before you testify, you will swear or affirm that your evidence will be the truth. This obligation is fundamental to your evidence. Should you wish to swear the oath using an object you consider binding on your conscience, it is your responsibility to ensure that the object is in your possession when the oath is administered.

    • 3. The member may explain the rules that restrict your ability to speak to your representative or counsel during your initial testimony (examination-in-chief), cross-examination, and re-examination. The rules apply to conversations that take place in person, by phone, or via an electronic means of communication.

    • 4. Before you begin to give your evidence, you will be provided with an email address and a phone number to reach the hearing host if any technical issues arise during your testimony.

    • 5. If, at any time, you are unable to clearly hear or see the information over the videoconferencing platform or in any other way, notify the hearing host immediately.

    • 6. Once you begin testifying, if a technical problem arises, your first call is to be to the hearing host, not your lawyer.

    • 7. The videoconferencing platform is used to connect you to the hearing via both audio and video. You are prohibited from recording audio, video, and any images of the hearing.

    • 8. While testifying, you must always keep your camera and microphone switched ON, unless the member instructs otherwise.

    • 9. The camera should be positioned so that everyone can see you clearly, particularly your entire face and hands, if possible. You cannot use a digital background. Your background should be neutral.

    • 10. While testifying, you are not permitted to read or consult any documents, other than the following:
      • a) any documents that the examining lawyers participating in the videoconference direct you to;
      • b) any documents that you are specifically asked and permitted to review; and
      • c) if you are an expert witness, your and other experts’ reports, provided that they do not contain any notes or annotations that either you or someone else has made.

    • 11. While testifying, you cannot refer to a script or to any notes.

  • B. Best practices for testifying by videoconference

    To ensure that the hearing runs as fairly and efficiently as possible, it is important that you use the appropriate technology and follow the appropriate steps to try to minimize any disruption to your Internet connection. Please refer to the FPSLREB’s guidelines and other documents about its virtual hearings.

    These are some best practices you should consider before you appear to testify:

    1. You will need the appropriate hardware for a lengthy legal examination. If you have concerns about your hardware or software, please discuss them with the lawyer who called you as a witness. Useful hardware includes a personal computer, a second (external) monitor, a headset (if you do not have speakers and a microphone of sufficient quality), and a webcam (if your computer does not have one built-in that is of sufficient quality).

    2. Review the area around your computer and consider what you can do to reduce interruptions. For example, if family members are nearby, let them know that you will be testifying and that you must not be interrupted. Also, turn off other electronic devices that might make unwanted sounds while you testify.

    3. Determine the bandwidth of your Internet connection. If it is poor, see if you can do anything to increase it.

    4. Consider connecting your computer to your modem or router by an Ethernet cable instead of using a wireless connection (Wi-Fi).

    5. Close any unnecessary programs on your computer before you begin testifying. And close any virtual private network (VPN) connections; they can cause interruptions.

    6. If testifying from home, consider asking anyone there to not use applications that might use a significant amount of the available bandwidth (e.g., streaming video services) while you are being examined in the videoconference.