Hearings before Adjudicators are intended to be less formal than in a courtroom and are always electronically recorded. To make sure that everyone is heard, Adjudicators usually employ the following Hearing structure:
- The Complainant, who has to prove that discrimination has occurred, or the Appellant, who has to prove that the appeal has merit, begins her or his case first by producing witnesses to give sworn evidence.
- Witnesses will be asked to take an oath to tell the truth or to solemnly affirm that they will tell the truth. The failure to tell the truth while under oath or affirmation is a criminal offence.
- The Complainant or Appellant may then ask her or his witnesses questions. Their responses to those questions will become evidence at the Hearing. Witnesses may also introduce documents and other objects that may be marked by the Adjudicator as Exhibits in the Hearing.
What witnesses say under oath/affirmation and the Exhibits entered during a Hearing are the “evidence” that the Adjudicator will consider in giving his or her decision.
- The Respondent will then have the opportunity to ask questions of the Complainant’s/Appellant’s witnesses. This “cross-examination” is an important part of the hearing process. Cross-examination allows the other party to challenge what the witness had to say.
- The Adjudicator may also ask questions of the witnesses and both of the parties will be given an opportunity to re-question (“re-examine”) their witnesses after the Adjudicator is done.
- After hearing from the Complainant’s/Appellant’s witnesses, the Respondent will have the opportunity to call witnesses to give evidence, also. The same opportunity to cross-examine will be given to the Complainant and the Adjudicator may also ask further questions.
- During the proceedings the Adjudicator may be called upon by either party to make rulings about the evidence that is presented. A party may “object” to evidence for many reasons including irrelevancy, e.g. that the evidence does not have anything to do with the questions to be decided at the hearing. The Adjudicator will decide on such matters as they come up. Both parties will have the opportunity to speak to the Adjudicator about such objections.
- Exhibits that are to be considered as evidence at a Hearing may be agreed upon in advance by the parties or parties may ask the Adjudicator to mark documents and things as Exhibit during the Hearing. If a party objects to something being marked as an Exhibit, the Adjudicator will decide whether to do so or not after hearing from both parties.
- Once all of the evidence of both parties has been heard by the Adjudicator, each will have the opportunity to summarize that evidence for the Adjudicator and argue for the remedy that they are seeking.
- At the conclusion of the arguments of the parties, the Adjudicator will adjourn the Hearing and retire to write his or her decision. The written decision will be forwarded to all of the parties.
When in doubt, ask the Adjudicator
Once the Hearing process is underway, the presiding Adjudicator can answer procedural questions that are raised during the proceedings.