Tribunals for Users: One System, One Service : Report of the Review of Tribunals
This review of tribunals, the first for 44 years, examines the 70 different administrative tribunals in England and Wales. They deal with over a million cases a year, employ over 3500 people, and have become a substantial part of the system of justice. Yet, of the 70, only 20 each hear more than 500 cases a year; others are defunct; the quality of their work is variable; and cases take too long. The review has as its four main objectives: (1) to make the 70 tribunals into one Tribunals Service; (2) to make the tribunals independent of their sponsoring departments; (3) to improve the training of chairmen and members in the interpersonal skills required; (4) to enable unrepresented users to participate effectively and without apprehension in tribunal proceedings. The new Tribunals Service would provide a coherence essential if tribunals are to acquire a collective standing to match that of the court system. But there is also a basic need for a change in culture, with a greater focus on the users' needs, and swifter administration based on informality, simplicity, efficiency and proportionality. Without this culture change, the Review questions how tribunals can, as presently administered, find the independence, coherence, economies of scale, consistency, professionalism or IT, to which users are entitled.
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