In 2010 the government issued a Consultation about the Unified Court and Tribunals Service - (see Platform for the Future). This consultation was aimed at seeking views about the benefits which a unified service might bring. The headline merger decision had already been taken. The response to the consultation was issued on 1st April.
The whole Tribunal structure has
been undergoing an extensive process of change as a result of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 which implemented recommendations of the Leggatt Review. The Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council keeps under review the administrative justice system as a whole with a view to making it accessible, fair and efficient. It seeks to ensure that the relationships between the courts, tribunals, ombudsmen and alternative dispute resolution providers satisfactorily reflect the needs of users. The Public Bodies Bill - currently before Parliament - contains provision for Ministers to abolish the AJTC - (see Clause 1 of the latest Bill and Schedule 1).
One of the noticeable effects of the introduction of HMCTS has been the loss of a number of individual "tribunal" websites. These were undoubtedly of value to practitioners since, in some cases, decisions were reported. The Ministry of Justice website now has within it information about the Tribunal structure. Essentially, there is now a First Tier Tribunal with six Chambers and there is an Upper Tribunal with four Chambers. Almost all of the distinct tribunals which existed prior to the 2007 Act have now come within either the First Tier or the Upper Tribunal. Exploration of this part of the Ministry of Justice website is recommended.
Upper Tribunal – Chambers: Administrative Appeals; Immigration and Asylum; Lands; Tax and Chancery.
First- Tier Tribunal – General Regulatory; Health, Education and Social Care; Immigration and Asylum; Social Entitlements; Tax; War Pensions and Armed Forces Compensation.
Judicial Training also merged: From 1st April, the new Judicial College took over the training for the judiciary in both courts and tribunals. Previously there were separate arrangements for courts (the Judicial Studies Board) and for Tribunals (the Tribunals Judicial Training Group).
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