Thursday, 7 April 2011

Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service and Tribunal Structure

On 1st April, an important change came about with the merger of  Her Majesty's Courts Service (HMCS) (formed in 2005) and the Tribunal Service (formed 2006).  The new body, an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice, is "Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunal Service."  Mr Jonathan Djanogly MP (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice) informed Parliament that the agency is "responsible for the administration of the criminal, civil and family courts and tribunals in England and Wales and non-devolved tribunals in Scotland and Northern Ireland."  The service has a Chief Executive and a Board and operates within a Framework Agreement arrived at between the Lord Chancellor Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke QC MP), the Lord Chief Justice (Lord Judge) and the Senior President of Tribunals (Lord Justice Carnwath).

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. 

Tribunal Structure

Upper Tribunal –  Chambers:  Administrative Appeals; Immigration and Asylum; Lands; Tax and Chancery.

First- Tier TribunalGeneral 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).

Previous posts:  Law and Lawyers  January 2010 .... The AJTC future .... Public Bodies Bill ....

1 comment:

  1. BAILII continues to carry judgements from defunct tribunals.