Representation in the Fair Work Commission by lawyer or paid agent; big isn’t better

There is a growing unpredictability about if and when a party may obtain leave to be represented by a lawyer or paid agent in an unfair dismissal case. Hocking v AG Implement Merredin (2015)FWC 1606 by Williams C delivered on 10 March 2015 is a very simple explanation of the outcome of an application to the Fair Work Commission by a respondent to be represented by a lawyer or paid agent at a Commission hearing. The fundamental issue was that the respondent, a company self-evidently, given the jurisdiction of the Commission in relation to national system employers, had no dedicated human resources staff and “there is no evidence the respondent is able to represent itself effectively and so I am satisfied it would be unfair not to allow the respondent to be represented by a lawyer.”
On the other hand, on the very same day, in another case, another Commissioner (Cambridge C), cited with apparent approval that “The appearance of lawyers to represent the interests of parties to a hearing runs the very real risk that what was intended by the legislature to be an informal procedure will be burdened by unnecessary formality.(Warrell v Walton [2013] FCA 291) and refused leave for a company, admittedly a large one, to be so represented. Cowle v Caltex Petroleum Services Pty Ltd (2015) FWC 1592.