Representation in the Fair Work Commission

A Deputy President of the Fair Work Commission has ruled that a respondent company was entitled to be represented by a lawyer despite the objections of the applicant and in doing so, the Deputy President made observations to the effect that on balance the Commission welcomed the competent representation of parties on the basis that the plusses significantly outweighed the negatives. Applicant v Respondent (2014) FWC delivered on 1 May 2014
However in Oratis v Melbourne Business School (2014) FWC 2838 delivered on 30 April 2014, Commissioner Bissett, in granting permission for a lawyer to represent a company after being told that its human resources manager should not do so because it was proposed to call the manager as a witness, warned for the potential for such a precedent to be taken as an automatic right in such cases, observing that such an approach is not the intent of the Fair Work Act. Instead the Commissioner grantedleave for the lawyer to appear on the grounds of the complexity of the case.
In contrast, in Lalli-Cafini v The Trustee for the Samios Tyres Business Trust (2014) FWC 2907, delivered on 2 May 2014, a Deputy President of the Commission has granted permission for a small company with no human resources department to be represented in a case by a paid agent, even though it is anticipated that the consultant will also be a witness.