On 15 May 2008, AJTC member Bernard Quoroll gave a speech to the Tribunals Service Judicial Conference on behalf of the AJTC Chair Lord Newton of Braintree on the AJTC's central strategic objective of 'focusing first and foremost on the needs of administrative justice and tribunal users'.
The Senior President has published his first implementation review which looks forward, from a judicial perspective, to implementing the tribunal reforms in the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. The main steps towards implementation are set out at Annex A, although of necessity many of the dates are provisional.
On 19 May the Tribunal Procedure Committee was established to make and amend rules governing the practice and procedure in the First-tier Tribunal and Upper Tribunal.
The Tribunal Procedure Committee has commenced concurrent consultation on rules for the:
The rules and an accompanying note from the Honourable Mr Justice Elias, Chair of the Committee are available on the Tribunals Service website. The consultation closes on 11th July 2008.
On 19 May the government published its response to the consultation on Implementing Part 1 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007.
The First Minister for Wales, Rhodri Morgan appointed Bob Chapman, Gareth Lewis and Rhian Williams-Flew as the first members of the Welsh Committee of the Administrative Justice and Tribunal Council. Their appointments commenced on 1 June 2008.
Gareth Lewis is a member of the Employment Appeal Tribunal; a member of Council of the University of Wales and a part-time Director of the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education. He was previously Secretary of University College, Cardiff and Deputy Principal and Clerk to the Board of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
Peter Tyndall, Public Services Ombudsman for Wales and Ann Abraham, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, are also ex-officio members of the Committee, which is chaired by Professor Sir Adrian Webb.
Welsh Consumer Minister Gareth Thomas has announced the appointment of Members to the new Welsh Consumer Council (WCC). The following Members have been appointed: Bob Chapman, Hywel Davies, Kevin Fitzpatrick, Marcus Longley, Eifion Pritchard, Malcolm Smith, and John Williams.
The Welsh Assembly Government is proposing that children with Special Educational Needs should have a right of appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal in Wales. The Welsh Assembly Government is currently consulting on how such a proposal may work. Consultation responses are due by 3 October 2008.
In its response to its consultation on Implementing Part 1 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, the government stated that decisions of devolved Welsh tribunals should be challengeable in Wales, and that this facility should be extended to all First-tier Tribunal decisions generated in Wales. The government is committed to establishing an Upper Tribunal Office in Wales and will explore the suggestion made by several respondents of the possibility of co-ordinating this office with the proposed Administrative Court office in Cardiff.
On 5 June 2008, the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales laid before the National Assembly for Wales the Annual Report for 2007/08.
Review of Scotland's Civil Courts
The Lord Justice Clerk Lord Gill is heading a wide-ranging review of Scotland's civil courts and the way they work.
The review, begun in February 2007, is aimed at ensuring that the civil justice system continues to provide an effective and efficient service for any individuals, families, communities and businesses that have cause to use it. Its remit includes the timeline of reporting within 2 years and of making recommendations for changes with a view to improving access to civil justice in Scotland; promoting early resolution of disputes; making the best use of resources and ensuring that cases are dealt with in ways which are proportionate to the value, importance and complexity of the issues raised.
A public consultation exercise begun in March 2008 has now closed and the formal responses can be viewed on the Review website from early July.
The third Annual Report of the President of the Additional Needs Tribunals for Scotland 2007/2008 was published in May 2008.
The report covers a wide range of issues that the ASNTS deals with. The Scottish Committee of the AJTC was particularly interested in the production of a DVD on the Tribunal, which is a welcome aid to users of this tribunal system. The DVD can be accessed through the ASNTS website.
Queen's Birthday Honours 2008
The Independent Asylum Commission has published the first of three reports outlining its conclusions and recommendations resulting from a nation-wide citizens' review of the UK Asylum system.
Work in Progress: Management of Asylum
The National Audit Office are currently examining the management of asylum, focusing on:
It is expected that their report will be published in late 2008.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families published schools admissions appeals statistics on 22 May 2008, showing that just over a third of appeals overall are successful.
On 12 June the Department for Children, Schools and Families released a revised School Admissions Code, School Admission Appeals Code and regulations for consultation. Consultation responses are due by 2 October 2008.
Peter Whiteley, an Investigator at the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO), outlines recent changes in the law that have widened the LGO's powers, and the possible impact of these changes.
The 2008 Annual Meeting of the British and Irish Ombudsman Association (BIOA) took place in Edinburgh on 9 May at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. On the previous evening an Association Dinner was held at The George Hotel, following a 'fringe' event for managers and case workers of members schemes held during the afternoon at the office of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.
At the Annual Meeting, in addition to the formal business of the Association, external speakers presented on the theme of 'Ombudsmen and the changing world in which we operate'.
Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman
Ann Abraham, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has published a new report - Remedy in the NHS. The report summarises 12 NHS cases previously investigated by the Ombudsman, highlighting examples of both good and bad practice in dealing with complaints.
The Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman's Office is working on a project to develop Principles of Good Complaint Handling. They are currently consulting on draft principles, and welcome comments by 12 August 2008.
Good Administration: Why we need it more than ever
On 17 June Ann Abraham, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, gave a speech on good administration for the Constitution Unit Public Seminars Series 2008. She highlighted the need to strive for improved public administration at a time when the publication of The Governance of Britain Green Paper, the Law Commission's consultation on public law remedies, and the creation of the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council make administrative justice especially topical.
On 9 April, Lord Hunt of Wirral published the report of his independent review of the Financial Ombudsman Service – 'Opening Up, Reaching Out and Aiming High – An Agenda for Accessibility and Excellence in the Financial Ombudsman Service'.
On 27 March 2008 the Australian Ombudsman Prof. John McMillan gave a presentation to Australia Pacific Ombudsman Regional meeting in Melbourne on the changing and expanding role of Ombudsmen.
Oliver Toop, Mental Health Policy Developer at the Legal Services Commission (LSC) outlines the mental health whole systems initiative currently being undertaken by the LSC.
On 12 June 2008, Carolyn Regan, Chief Executive of the Legal Services Commission (LSC), announced the publication of the LSC Strategic Plan for 2008-11.
Twenty Citizens Advice Bureaux across England and Wales have been awarded grants by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to provide advice on discrimination problems and to build people's awareness of human rights and access to justice.
As part of their programme of housing law reform, on 13 May 2008 the Law Commission have published final proposals on housing dispute resolution.
On 11 June the Law Commission published its 10th Programme of Law Reform.
New Law Commissioner
Ms Varda Bondy of the Public Law Project has been granted £121,192 by the Nuffield Foundation Research Initiative on Administrative Justice, for a conceptual and empirical study of 'Design and choice of redress mechanism'.
The Ministry of Justice has published updated guidance for researchers on accessing court, tribunal and prison service records.
The Council of Europe has launched its new Human Rights and Legal Affairs Portal, which has information about standard setting, monitoring and co-operation activities among member states.
Alternative Dispute Resolution – An Effective Means For Tribunals to Achieve Earlier Solutions, Faster Justice (pdf,0.1MB)
The Executive Director of the British Columbian Administrative Justice Office gave a presentation on 'Alternative Dispute Resolution – An Effective Means For Tribunals to Achieve Earlier Solutions, Faster Justice' at the Canadian Institute's Advanced Administrative Law and Practice Conference in May.
The Annual Conference of the Council of Australasian Tribunals (New South Wales) was held on Friday 23 May 2008.
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