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AJTC sets out its vision

Lord Newton

"We regard the main purpose of the AJTC as helping to make administrative justice and tribunals increasingly accessible, fair and effective, first and foremost by focusing on the needs of users."
Lord Newton of Braintree

Welcome to the latest edition of 'Adjust'. In this edition, we report on the highlights from our launch and begin to set out our vision for the administrative justice landscape.

AJTC launch highlights

Speeches from the launch

 

Lord Newton of Braintree, Chair, AJTC
"The AJTC will also promote access to justice by playing a pivotal role in the development of coherent principles and good practice." more >

Lord Justice Carnwath, Senior President of Tribunals
"I have been particularly struck by the degree of consensus as to both the need for reform and the objectives of reform." more >
(The Right Honourable Lord Justice Carnwath was appointed Senior President of Tribunals in November 2007).

Ann Abraham, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
"The AJTC [should]...be ambitious and bold;...be strategic and proactive...be confident and strong – in the interests of all the users and the providers of administrative justice – but also in the interests of a much, much wider public." more >

The AJTC was also delighted to welcome Bridget Prentice MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, and Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, Lord Chief Justice. Read Bridget Prentice's speech here and Lord Phillips' speech here.

 
Working with other organisations

 

Adjust spoke to some of our stakeholders and partners to get a sense of how the AJTC can best work with other organisations.

James Sandbach, Citizens Advice
"We would particularly like the AJTC to focus on what support tribunal users need to get the best out of the tribunal system". more >

Caroline Sheppard, Chief Adjudicator, NPAS
'...the bespoke services and specialities of the individual smaller Tribunals need to be preserved and can be championed by the AJTC'. more >

Steve Hynes, Legal Action Group
"LAG is particularly concerned about the impact of tribunals in ensuring access to justice for poor and marginalised communities". more >

Tony Redmond, BIOA
"...the greatest benefit of this new body [the AJTC] is the increased scope for Ombudsmen and Tribunals to share knowledge, experience and good practice...". more >

Margaret Harrison-Smith and Jillian Segal,
Australian Administrative Review Council

"Since the inception of the ARC in 1976, our two Councils have enjoyed a close and productive relationship". more >
 

Bernard Quoroll, Member, AJTC
We've come a long way since Franks – but the journey is not yet over.

 

In the first of two articles, Bernard Quoroll, a member of the AJTC, reflects on changes in the approach to administrative justice since the Franks report in 1957. more >
 

Transforming Tribunals: Consultation

 

On 28 November the government reached another milestone in its programme of radical reform of the tribunals system with publication of a consultation document Transforming Tribunals: Implementing Part 1 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. more >

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Features

Paul Draycott and Steve Hynes
Extending Legal Aid to Tribunals

 

Representation is not funded in many tribunal hearings. In this article, Paul Draycott, a barrister at Garden Court North, and Steve Hynes, director of the Law Centres Federation, discuss the limited avenues open for state funding, and the arguments for extending legal aid to tribunals in some cases. more >

Richard Charlton
Impact of Legal Aid Proposals on Mental Health Representation

 

Richard Charlton, Chair of the Mental Health Lawyers Association, talks to Adjust about the impact of legal aid proposals on mental health representation. more >

Andrew Bano
The Tribunals 'umbrella'

 

Andrew Bano, a Social Security and Child Support Commissioner, discusses bringing together tribunals into the judicial family in an article which originally appeared in 'Benchmark', the judicial newsletter. more >

Steven Cuthbertson
An introduction to the Local Government Ombudsman Service

 

Previous editions of Adjust have referred to reports by the Local Government Ombudsmen. Steven Cuthbertson, an Investigator in the Ombudsman's Coventry office, gives an insight into the workings of the LGO service. more >

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Asylum and Immigration

Case Management Review (CMR) Project

 

Andrew Cox, CMR Project Manager at the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal, talks to Adjust about a new pilot case management review project. more >

Consultation on Procedural Rules

 

The Asylum and Immigration Tribunal has launched a six-week public consultation on amendments to the Procedure Rules and Fast Track Procedure Rules, running from the 5 November through to 16 December 2007. View the consultation here.

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Ombudsmen

Review of the Financial Ombudsman Service

 

Lord Hunt is currently undertaking an independent review of the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) to ensure that it is as open, approachable and user-friendly as it can reasonably be expected to be; and also that it sets reasonable expectations of what it can and can't do.

All stakeholders are invited to contribute to the independent review of the FOS by 16 January 2008. Information regarding calls for evidence and submissions can be found here.

Parliamentary Ombudsman:
Regulatory Reform (Collaboration etc. between Ombudsmen) Order 2007

 

A new regulatory reform order means that the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) and Local Government Ombudsmen can share information, carry out joint investigations and issue joint reports on cases that are relevant to more than one of them. Previously, if a case spanned their jurisdictions, the Ombudsmen were required to carry out separate investigations and issue separate reports. These reforms are in line with PHSO's Principles of Good Administration, which placed a strong emphasis on being customer focused and seeking continuous improvement. Read more info here (PDF, 54KB)

PHSO: Tax Credits Report

 

Ann Abraham, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, has published her second special report on tax credits 'Tax Credits: Getting it wrong?'. Complaints about tax credits currently form more than 26% of all complaints to the Ombudsman. The complaints fall into three key groups: the design of the system; failures in complaints handling; and unfair or unreasonable recovery of overpayments. Read the report here

Principles for Remedy

 

The PHSO published the Principles for Remedy in October 2007, following a consultation that took place in March 2007. The consultation sought views on a set of guiding principles when considering theremedies for injustice or hardship resulting from maladministration or poor service. The Principles for Remedy are:

  1. Getting it right
  2. Being customer focused
  3. Being open and accountable
  4. Acting fairly and proportionately
  5. Putting things right
  6. Seeking continuous improvement

Read the report of the consultation here.

The Principles for Remedy flow from, and should be read with, the earlier Principles of Good Administration.

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Education

AJTC welcomes mandatory training for school admission appeal panels

 

The Education (Admissions Appeals Arrangements) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/3205) and a new School Admissions Appeals Code were laid before Parliament on 16 November 2007. They are due to come into force on 17 January 2008 and apply to appeals in respect of decisions on admissions communicated on or after 1 March 2008. more>.

Pupil Exclusions: Updated Guidance

 

The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) has updated its guidance on school exclusions. 'Improving Behaviour and Attendance Guidance on Exclusion from Schools and Pupil Referral Units: September 2007' replaces the September 2006 edition and is available to download here.

Information for School and College Governors (ISCG):
Manual for Governing Bodies and Clerks 2007

 

The ISCG have published their latest updated Manual for Governing Bodies and their Clerks 2007. The guide provides ideas for good practice on everyday roles and responsibilities as well as key points of law. More information can be found on their website.

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Tribunals Service

Customer Satisfaction Survey

 

The Tribunals Service has contracted FDS International Ltd to conduct a Customer Satisfaction Survey. The survey will be carried out at intervals throughout 2007, 2008 and 2009 and it is hoped the results will allow the TS to develop a Key Performance Indicator for customer satisfaction and measure customer service performance across the TS.

Launch of the Welsh Language Scheme

 

The Tribunals Service launched its Welsh Language Scheme in August 2007. The scheme sets out how the TS will provide services in Welsh to the public in Wales and covers:

  • Service planning and delivery;
  • Dealing with the Welsh speaking public;
  • The public face of the TS in Wales;
  • Implementation of the scheme.

For more information and a copy of the guide, go here.

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Judicial Studies Board

Tribunals Training Prospectus, 2008

 

The JSB has published the 2008 edition of its Tribunals Training Prospectus, which sets out the JSB's programme of judgecraft and generic skills training for the tribunal judiciary. The most recent addition is a one-day induction skills seminar aimed principally at non-legal panel members. A skills seminar for new tribunal mentors designed to complement the recent DVD 'Supporting the Judiciary – the Mentoring Process' is also now offered. The Prospectus provides an outline of each training event, details on how to make nominations and the areas of support that the JSB can provide in the design and delivery of individual training programmes. The Prospectus is available here (pdf, 0.7MB). A summary of forthcoming courses advertised in the Prospectus is shown below.

Tribunal Skills Development (places available for both)
31 March - 2 April 08
8-10 October 08

Tribunal Advanced Skills Course (places available)
10-11 November 2008

Training the Trainer (places available)
5-6 June 2008

Effective use of Small Groups in Training (limited places)
23 January 2008

Tribunal Competences - Qualities and Abilities in Action

 

The JSB's Competence Framework for Chairmen and Members of Tribunals (pdf, 0.2MB) has been revised and Faye Windmill describes what prompted the review, how the work was conducted, and the amendments that have been made. more >

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Scotland

Scrutiny of Local Government: Crerar Report

 

This report on the audit, inspection and regulation of public services recommends that one single body should oversee scrutiny of local government in Scotland.

The Independent Review of Regulation, Audit, Inspection and Complaints Handling of Public Services in Scotland, chaired by Professor Lorne Crerar, makes 42 recommendations to improve the role of scrutiny within the public sector. The report can be viewed here.

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International

Comparative Study of Best Practice in Mental Health Review and Decision Making

 

John Lesser, President of the Mental Health Review Board of Victoria, Australia and 2006 Churchill Fellow*, has completed a study evaluating mental health review and decision making systems in England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Canada. The study, entitled ‘Review and Decision Making for Persons with a Serious Mental Illness: Achieving Best Practice – a cross-jurisdictional evaluation of involuntary mental health review and decision-making systems’ is available to download here (pdf, 0.2MB).

*The Churchill Fellowship scheme operates in most Commonwealth countries. Successful applications are merit-based and support an unlimited range of worthwhile projects involving overseas study that will not only benefit the community, but also provide the Fellow with a potentially life-changing professional and personal experience.

Links:
- Winston Churchill Memorial Trust
- Mental Health Review Board of Victoria

Australian Administrative Review Council: Best Practice Guides for Administrative Decision Makers

 

The Australian Administrative Review Council has published a series of Best Practice Guides for Administrative Decision Makers. Margaret Harrison Smith, Executive Director of the ARC, talks to Adjust about the guides. more >

Australia: Legal Needs of People with a Mental Illness - Report

 

The Law and Justice Foundation of New South Wales has published a report, On the Edge of Justice: the Legal Needs of People with a Mental Illness. more >

Dispute Resolution in Australia: Survey

 

The Department of Justice in Victoria, Australia commissioned a community survey on the use of dispute resolution in Victoria. This report outlines findings from the survey, which aimed to measure recognition of, attitudes to, and experiences of alternative dispute resolution schemes operating in Victoria. Read more here.

Administrative Justice without Borders:
CCAT Conference Report

 

Bernard Quoroll, a member of the AJTC, attended the fourth international administrative justice conference organised by the Council of Canadian Administrative Tribunals in May this year. Read his personal account of the conference here.

La juridiction administrative en 2006

 

For French speakers, an article in “La Lettre de la Justice Administrative” explains how the administrative tribunals in France have been managing their increasing caseloads, particularly in asylum and immigration, social security and driving licence disputes. Tribunals have been making efforts to increase the numbers of decided cases in order to keep waiting times for hearings to a minimum. Read more here (pdf, 268KB).

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People

Social Security and Child Support Appeal Tribunal

 

Mr Robert Martin has been appointed as President of the Social Security and Child Support Appeal Tribunal and a circuit judge as of the 1 November. Mr Martin previously served as a Regional Chairman in the Appeals Service and Immigration Adjudicator.

Competition Appeal Tribunal

 

Mr Gerald Edward Barling QC has been appointed as the President of the Competition Appeal Tribunal and a High Court judge as of the 5 November. He replaces Sir Christopher Bellamy who retired as President of the Competition Appeal Tribunal in February 2007.

New Chairman of the Tribunals Committee, JSB

 

The Honourable Mr Justice Brian Langstaff was appointed as the new Chairman of the JSB’s Tribunals Committee on 1 November 2007. He replaces The Honourable Mr Justice Jeremy Sullivan, who completed his term at the JSB after seven years in office.

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Features

Asylum and Immigration

Ombudsmen

Education

Tribunals Service

Judicial Studies Board

Scotland

International

People

Research

 

Research

Empirical Research on Tribunals 1992-2007

 

Professor Martin Partington, research advisor to the Senior President, and his assistants Ed Kirton-Darling and Frances McClenaghan, have produced an annotated bibliography of the main research studies relevant to the Tribunals Service which have been published over the past 20 years. The review is now available to download here.

Dispute Resolution and Avoidance in Education

 

Professor Neville Harris and Professor Sheila Riddell are undertaking a research study entitled 'Dispute Resolution and Avoidance in Education: A Study of Special and Additional Support Needs in England and Scotland'. The study is an Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) funded research project based at the Universities of Manchester and Edinburgh.

Review of the Economic Impact of Employment Relations Services Delivered by ACAS

 

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research has published a report showing the positive economic impact that ACAS has on the UK economy. The report’s findings demonstrate that ACAS makes a significant contribution to businesses, employees and consumers and the economy more broadly. For every pound spent by ACAS, over £16 is returned, generating benefits worth almost £800 million a year across UK businesses, employees and the economy. Read more here.

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Advancing Administrative Justice ADJUST December 2007

 

AJTC - Administrative Justice & Tribunals Council