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JSB Tribunals journal
In the next issue of the Judicial Studies Board's journal (publication date February 2006):
To subscribe to the journal, which is free of charge, email: email@example.com
JSB Training Dates
24 Jan 2006
22 Feb 2006
8-10 Mar 2006
20-22 Mar 2006
19-20 June 2006
9-11 October 2006
27-28 November 2006
For further details see the JSB's Tribunals' Training Prospectus
Tribunals for Diverse Users – Research Launch
Professor Hazel Genn's long anticipated research report "Tribunals for Diverse Users" was launched by the DCA Research Unit on 18 January 2006. The report was based on a study of access, expectations, experiences and outcomes of tribunal hearings from the perspective of tribunal users in three tribunals: the Appeals Service, Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel and the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.
"...with rare exceptions tribunals treated users from all ethnic backgrounds with courtesy and respect."
The report found that users within those three tribunals are on the whole treated well during hearings and that the majority of users, across ethnic groups, perceive this to be true. The study also highlights the importance of pre-hearing preparation, the perception of fairness, and the need for the judiciary to have the skills to enable unrepresented parties to present their cases.
It is envisaged that the results of this study will have a positive impact on the objectives, procedures and training within the new Tribunals Service.
Minister announces lay members review at Council's Conference
The Council welcomed Baroness (Cathy) Ashton, DCA Under Secretary of State as the keynote speaker at its annual conference on 15 November 2005.
Announcing a review of the role of lay (or non-legal) tribunal members, Baroness Ashton said: "Non-legal tribunal members play an important role in connecting with users, particularly the most vulnerable. I believe they are sometimes underused and undervalued. While the highest standards of legal expertise will be vital in a reformed tribunal system it is equally important that tribunals harness all the skills and knowledge of all types of member"
Further details on the review timetable are awaited, but if you have any views on the role of lay members in tribunals, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Otelo: Taking Complaints Seriously
The Office of the Telecommunications Ombudsman (OTELO) held a workshop for the consumer and advice sector, entitled 'Taking Complaints Seriously – working together to achieve individual redress' at the Council's offices on 25 November 2005. The well-attended workshop was an opportunity to meet Telecoms Ombudsman, Elizabeth France, and learn more about the process of complaints handling.
Inaugural London EASI (Education Appeals Support Initiative) Group
" There is a real need for this kind of support / networking in an area of work which is so complex, and subject to legal action "
The Council were delighted to welcome delegates to the first meeting of the new London-based EASI group on 1 December 2005. The meeting was attended by school admission and exclusion appeal clerks from across the London Boroughs. The creation of the London group follows similar initiatives around the country, and will help address concerns about school admission and exclusion appeal panels as highlighted in the Council's 2003 Special Report.
Increasing diversity of panel members
The Council and members of the EASI group are discussing ways of increasing the diversity of school admission and exclusion appeal panels. The process of recruitment and training of panel members is generally the responsibility of clerks to the panels, and so the group are sharing examples of best practice in recruiting new panel members, including what steps might be taken to encourage a more diverse cross-section of society to put themselves forward for appointment.
Oral Hearings in Administrative Justice
The Council has now published a summary of responses to its May 2005 consultation paper "The Use and Value of Oral Hearings in the Administrative Justice System". The summary, along with most of the responses themselves, is now available on our website. The Council would like to thank those who took the time to submit their points of view.
The Kiwi Experience...
Trish McConnell, Principal Adjudicator of the Tenancy Tribunal in New Zealand, visited the Council at the end of November as part of a networking tour. The Tenancy Tribunal, part of the Ministry of Justice in New Zealand, is a court established under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 to deal with unresolved problems between landlords and tenants.
Trish is also Chair of the New Zealand Chapter of the Council of Australasian Tribunals. Set up in 2001, COAT facilitates liaison and discussion between the heads of tribunals, supporting the development of best practice models and model procedural rules, standards of behaviour and conduct for members and increased provision of training and support for members.
The European Experience...
European Ombudsman P. Nikiforos Diamandouros visited the Council on 28 November 2005 and as part of a programme of visits to EU Member states delivered a speech at University College London on the role of the Ombudsman in strengthening accountability and the rule of law. The European Ombudsman was established by the Maastricht Treaty to deal with complaints about maladministration by the institutions and bodies of the European Community.
From Russia with Love...
Lord Newton was delighted to accept, on behalf of the Council, a splendid gift of an ornate Russian bear, presented to him by Anton Alexandrovitch Ivanov, Chairman of the Supreme Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation. Mr Ivanov was leading a study tour to the UK as part of an EU Tacis Programme project. The jurisdiction of the Arbitration Courts of the Russian Federation includes some areas of law dealt with by tribunals in the UK.
Lord Newton announced as Chairman of the Buncefield Investigation
Lord Newton of Braintree, Chairman of the Council on Tribunals, has been appointed as the independent chairman of the board supervising the investigation into the Buncefield oil depot incident on 11 December 2005.
Council welcomes new members
The Council welcomed three new members in December 2005. Sue Davis CBE, Dr Jonathan Spencer and Mrs Pat Thomas were each appointed for four years. Mrs Davis is Chair of Telford and Wrekin Primary Care Trust and a Councillor for Dawley Magna Ward, Telford and Wrekin Council. Dr Spencer was a civil servant from 1974 to 2005 and for the last three years Director General, Clients and Policy at the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA). Mrs Thomas was a Local Government Ombudsman for 20 years, and Vice-Chairman of the Commission for Local Administration in England from 1993–2005.
The Home Affairs Select Committee is examining the policy and practice of immigration control, examining the entry clearance (visa) system, the granting or refusing of further leave in the UK and the enforcement of immigration control, including appeals. The committee most recently heard oral evidence from Mr Justice Hodge OBE, President of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunals, and Mr Justice Collins, Lead Judge of the Administrative Court.
UNHCR Quality Initiative Project
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is also jointly working with the Home Office on a project to improve first instance determination of asylum claims. The 'Quality Initiative Project' is a long-term exercise, which UNHCR hopes will have a positive influence on asylum procedures and first instance decision-making.
The Aussie Experience...
In November 2005, the DCA published a research report by Trevor Buck from the University of Leicester, examining the Australian system of administrative justice, and in particular, the role of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) within that system. The report outlines developments across the courts, tribunals and ombudsmen at both the Commonwealth and the State/Territory levels of government.
Judicial Appointments Commission
His Honour Judge David Stephen Pearl was appointed the Tribunal Member of the Judicial Appointments Commission, Lord Falconer, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs announced on 23 January 2006. Under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 there will be 14 Commissioners drawn from the judiciary, the legal professions, listed tribunals, the lay magistracy and lay public. The Judicial Appointments Commission will assume responsibility for making recommendations for the appointment of judicial office-holders. Professor Hazel Genn has also been appointed as a lay member of the commission
Rights and Responsibilities – Raising Citizens' Awareness
The DCA has recently announced the creation of the Public Legal Education Strategy Task Force, set up to help people understand their rights and responsibilities. The Task Force, chaired by Professor Hazel Genn, will identify strategies to increase citizens' awareness and understanding of their legal rights and responsibilities and develop the knowledge and skills needed to deal effectively with them. Membership will include key government departments, academia, the voluntary sector and professional organisations.
New Planning Inspectorate Newsletter
The Planning Inspectorate have launched a new quarterly e-newsletter. Issue 1 contains contributions on three aspects of the new development plan system, high hedges appeals, inquiry facilities and the latest customer satisfaction survey.
She Who Dares...
Lorna Windmill, Finance Director at the Employment Tribunals Service, has published her second book.
'A British Achilles' is the biography of George, 2nd Earl Jellicoe, and describes a colourful career that included periods as the first commander of the Special Boat Service, Leader of the House of Lords and ministerial head of the Civil Service. The new biography follows the success of Lorna's first book, Gentleman Jim: The Wartime Story of a Founder of the SAS, inspired by the wartime diaries of her father, Jim Almonds, one of the four founders of the SAS.
Making Social Security Law: Role of the Commissioners
Trevor Buck, David Bonner and Roy Sainsbury have published a new study which provides a comprehensive analysis of the work of the Social Security and Child Support Commissioners and their role in the development of social security law.
Worth a click...
Rightsnet – the welfare rights website for advice workers
"Thirty seconds to make a difference"
Steve Donnison manages 'Benefits and Work', an online information service offering extensive information on welfare benefits, employment rights, advice and representation as well as providing downloadable advice guides and a member discussion forum. Here, he describes a forthcoming video aimed at dispelling myths for first-time tribunal users, inviting any useful tips.
Independent Case Examiner
Jodi Berg is the Independent Case Examiner (ICE) for the Child Support Agency and the Northern Ireland Social Security Agency. Her role is to investigate complaints made about these Agencies by service users. Jodi talks to Adjust about her challenging role.
Additional Support Needs Tribunals for Scotland
Liz Cameron, a member of the Council and its Scottish Committee, and Vice Chair of the Scottish Mediation Network explains about the new Additional Support Needs Tribunals for Scotland.