The Review Of Tribunals Essay
You Are A Member Of The Review Team That Undertook The Review Of Tribunals. Consider The Benefits Offered By Tribunals And Offer Possible Reforms That Will Improve The Tribunal System. Include In Your Answer Proposals, And/ Or Current And Past Reforms Already Made In Respect Of Tribunals.
In England, there are number of tribunals but they all operate under three umbrellas namely the administrative tribunals, domestic tribunals and tribunals of enquiry. Each tribunal is classified into either one of the three umbrellas. In the government search for an adaptable, simplistic and dynamic tribunal service the government-implemented number of proposals to gain its objectives and achieve its target. Consequently, the government have incorporated the Tribunal Service. The Tribunal Service is a new government agency, which will be launched in 2006 with a positive approach to the tribunal system(1).
The role of the Tribunal Service will be more focused on providing administrative support to the central government tribunals. The Tribunal Service will be part of the Department for Constitutional Affairs. Furthermore the "Launch of the new Service will be the biggest change to the tribunals system in this country in almost half a century.(2)" Additionally, it will be responsible for assessing the fairness, effectiveness and efficiency of the service provided by tribunals with a positive approach to conferring 'justice for all'.
Under the new reforms, the government objective is to ensure that tribunals are manifestly independent, preserve the capacity to deliver greater and consistent practice and procedure, make a better usage of the resources in existence and preserve a principle approach in evolving, advancing and improving dispute resolutions.
Currently there are number of tribunals under the umbrella of the Department for Constitutional Affairs, which include:
(1) Special Commissioners of Income Tax; Value Added Tax and Duties Tribunals
(2) Financial Services and Markets Tribunal
(3) Pensions Regulator Tribunal; Asylum and Immigration Tribunal
(4) Special Immigration Appeals Commission; Proscribed Organisations Appeals Commission; Pathogen Access Appeals Commission (PAAC)
(5) Lands Tribunal; Transport Tribunal; Pensions Appeal Tribunal, Adjudicator to HM Land Registry; Information Tribunal
(6) Immigration Services Tribunal (IMSET); Social Security and Child Support Commissioners, Gender Recognition Tribunal.
CURRENT AND FORMER REFORM OF THE TRIBUNAL SYSTEM
According to an enquiry made to the Lord Chancellor on the reform of the tribunal system, he had replied, "Reform of the justice system is one of this Government's priorities. Since 1997, we have implemented major improvements in the criminal and civil courts. In 2000, I asked Sir Andrew Leggett to review the tribunal system. We published Sir Andrew's radical blueprint for reform - Tribunals for Users: One System, One Service - in August 2001(3)". This followed by the White Paper on the reform of the tribunals, which set out the new proposals with a positive approach(4).
Over a ten-year period, the UK government have shuffled and significantly reform tribunals with a considerable contribution to implement a unified, unpretentious and manageable tribunals. The proposals laid by the parliament in an aim to reform the tribunal system with a reshuffle to upgrade "most non-developed central government tribunals together into a single service... the service will reflect the need and specialisms of individual jurisdictions...(5)" This type of tribunal system can symbolise and signify the essential needs of litigants with a distinctive approach in creating the perfect justice system.
The Government's former proposals means that over the period of 2004/5 until 2007/8 the Appeal Service(6), Employment Tribunals Service(7), Mental Health Review Tribunal for England, Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal for England, Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel will transfer to the LCD from their departments. This proposal made in response to the simplification of the tribunal service from possessing excessive number of subsidiaries and few numbers of parent companies.
On 25 August 2005, The Department of Constitutional Affairs made further announcements on the progress of the resent proposals and process of the tribunal reform. It is anticipated that ahead of schedule two major bodies would be joining the new Tribunal Services. In effect, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel would become a part of the Tribunal Service in 2008. Additionally, it is expected to be joined by the Appeals Service in 2007. Appeals Service is concerned with tackling disputes on social security matters, child support issues and disability allowance applications and appeals(8).
Subjectively, there may be better approach in regulating and encapsulating the tribunals in a cascading and hierarchical system based on the type of application the tribunals is capable of hearing bearing in mind the complexity of cases. Currently, there is vast number of tribunals dealing with distinctive litigation issues. In effect, this renders the tribunal system in a complex system causing many problems for the public to understand the difficulties that arise in determining which tribunal to initiate an action.
There is no clear, unified and simplistic tribunal system that is the reason why there is a need depart from the curbing of an over-legalistic approach in the tribunal system. Nevertheless, such approach may be irretrievable due to the difficulties in setting the right strategy with a focused, horizontal and dimensional approach with sensitivity to the needs of the public incorporating it with the legalistic formalities in processing applications and finalising hearings.
It would be a better to codify the tribunal system by classifying tribunals into branches for example welfare related issues will deal with welfare issues such as benefits, health care, disability issues and so forth. Whereas, migration tribunals will focus on immigration and other related issues that concerns immigration disputes. By having coherently, classified branches it will simplify the system with more advantageous benefits.
The problems underlining the current tribunal system is the fact that there are too many tribunals classified into vast groups of tribunals but mostly tackling matters within similar issues, which renders it more difficult to regulate, subsidise and manage effectively and efficiently. The most and best possible solution to this problem is by overcoming the conviction that excessive number of tribunals is more effective. However, this approach has caused many conservancies and expenditure to public budget. The solution to the problem is to consolidate tribunals into several classes.
Simplification of the system will provide efficiency, reduction in public expenditure, more public awareness and understanding of the procedures involved as there will be less categories of tribunals and easier to adopt to the procedural steps involved in bringing claims and disputes before the tribunal.
Conclusively, the proposed reform by the government is more welcoming by the public as a proposal for fairer and efficient service for all will inevitably end the controversy over who receives and who does receive fair justice. Ultimately, once the new proposals are utterly implemented there is likely to be dramatic change and improved services provided to the members of the public. Clearly, the government deserves applause for the work contributed in comprising the new proposals and having to implement and incorporate it in the tight time limits and deadlines.