Pursuant to Section 14 of the act governing the Accident Appeal Board that entered into force on 1 January 2011, the Administrative Judicial Procedure Act shall apply to processing matters at the appeal board, unless specifically otherwise provided. The provisions of Section 38 of the Administrative Judicial Procedure Act on having an oral hearing at an administrative court at the request of a party shall also apply to oral hearings at the appeal board. Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 2, Subsection 1 of the Administrative Judicial Procedure Act, the appeal board applies the provisions of Sections 37 and 39–50 of this Act regarding the processing and investigation of the matter. Costs which, pursuant to Sections 49 and 50 of the Administrative Judicial Procedure Act, are refunded from state funds, are refunded from the funds of the appeal board, with the exception of costs refunded to a witness nominated by the state.
Pursuant to Section 37, Subsection 1 of the Administrative Judicial Procedure Act, an oral hearing is held to investigate the matter when required. The parties, public authorities, witnesses and experts may be heard and other evidence received in the oral hearing. Pursuant to Subsection 2, the oral hearing may be limited to concern only a part of the matter, to clarify the opinions of the parties or to receive oral evidence, or in another comparable manner.
According to Section 38, Subsection 1 of the Administrative Judicial Procedure Act, an administrative court must carry out an oral hearing if requested by a private party to the matter. The same applies to the Supreme Administrative Court where it is considering an appeal against the decision of an administrative authority. The oral hearing requested by a party need not be conducted if the claim is dismissed without considering its merits or immediately rejected, or if an oral hearing is manifestly unnecessary in view of the nature of the matter or for another reason. Pursuant to Subsection 2, this provision of Subsection 1 shall not apply if the standing of the requesting party is based on membership of a municipality or another community. Pursuant to Subsection 3, if a party requests an oral hearing, he shall state why the conduct thereof is necessary and what evidence he would present in the oral hearing.
As a rule, the legal processes in matters concerning statutory accident insurance only deal with written documents. However, the appeal board may carry out an oral hearing at the appellant’s request, or at its own initiative when deemed necessary to investigate the matter. However, an oral hearing may be omitted in spite of the appellant’s request if carrying out an oral hearing is clearly unnecessary given the nature of the matter or for some other reason. An oral hearing may be omitted when it is highly likely that it would not be of any use.
In principle, Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights guarantees concerned parties the right to an oral hearing unless it is unnecessary for some particular reason. In its judgements, the European Court of Human Rights has taken a stand on the grounds on which the oral hearing may be omitted. It has taken the view in several judgements regarding social security benefits that the national court did not have to carry out an oral hearing in spite of the concerned party’s request because the matter could be solved on the basis of written statements of expert opinion and other written documentation. The above judgements have concerned social security benefits and the evidence has consisted of written medical reports submitted to the court.
Carrying out an oral hearing has been considered clearly unnecessary in the legal praxis of the Insurance Court, for example for the purpose of hearing a treating physician regarding the causal link between the injury and accident at work in cases where the documentation already includes an appropriate and sufficiently comprehensive medical report in writing, including the treating physician’s statement. Hearing a witness in a matter that does not involve any conflict and does not bring any material new information for solving the case has already been considered clearly unnecessary in the legal praxis of the Insurance Court. Because the appellant can express his/her views on the matter in writing, carrying out an oral hearing merely for the purpose of hearing the appellant is usually considered unnecessary.