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Adjust - newsletter of the Council on Tribunals

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Wales Conference

The Council on Tribunals will be hosting its second conference on Administrative Justice in Wales on Thursday 21 June 2007. The conference will take place at St David's Hotel in Cardiff. Delegates will have an opportunity to engage in discussions about administrative justice in Wales.

If you would be interested in attending, please email us

Tribunal Case Scenarios

The Tribunals Service has produced a useful booklet which describes the work of tribunals using fictional case studies. The booklet is intended as a guide for users to gain a broader picture of the type of work undertaken by individual tribunals within the Tribunals Service.

View the booklet (pdf, 432KB)

International Conference

The Council of Canadian Administrative Tribunals (CCAT) will be holding its 4th International Conference from 6-8 May 2007 in Vancouver, Canada. The theme of CCAT's conference is 'Administrative Justice Without Borders' and speakers include Lord Justice Carnwath and Dame Hazel Genn presenting her research 'Tribunals for Diverse Users'.

More details & registration

Council on Tribunals – Annual Conference 2006

"The Council is moving ahead with its own agenda to turn itself into the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council. And without conceding an inch of its independence or integrity, it has become a very valued critical friend to us as we transform tribunals"
- Lord Falconer of Thoroton

The Council welcomed Lord Falconer of Thoroton, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary for State for Constitutional Affairs as the keynote speaker at its annual conference on 14 November 2006. The conference was well attended by a broad and diverse selection from across the judiciary, academia and voluntary sector. Lord Falconer spoke about the importance and impact of tribunal reform in the context of wider administrative reform. The focus of the afternoon sessions was "getting it right first time", in which delegates discussed how best to stimulate improvements in decision-making through feedback from tribunals. A full report of the conference will be available shortly on the Council's website.

Lord FalconerTony RedmondHis Honour Judge Henry Hodge
 

Parliament :

Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill

Regular Adjust readers will hardly need telling that this Bill was introduced in the Lords in November and is proceeding through its various stages at a great pace. It is the most important measure affecting tribunals generally since the Tribunals and Inquiries Act 1958. It will establish a unified tribunals system along the lines recommended by the Leggatt Report in 2001. It will also turn the Council on Tribunals (itself set up by the 1958 Act) into an Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council, with general oversight of the administrative justice system as a whole. The Council's Chairman, Lord Newton of Braintree, has taken part in all the Lords debates. The Bill has also attracted the attention of the House of Lords Constitution Committee and the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

 

Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Bill

At both the Grand Committee and Report stages of the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Bill in the House of Lords the Council's Chairman commented on provisions in the Bill in a personal capacity. Of particular concern to him was the fact that the Bill seemed to include a proposal to allow for the introduction of multiple competing ombudsmen in the same sector. He sought an explanation from the Government as to the justification for this particular approach. Lord Truscott, on behalf of the government, stressed that it was the government's policy preference to see just one redress scheme established in each sector. However, the government was of the view that it might not always be appropriate in all sectors or all circumstances and sectoral regulators were best placed to determine the appropriate number of schemes to be approved within each sector.

The Chairman's contributions to both debates can be found at the following links:

 

Memorandum on the Mental Health Bill

The Council on Tribunals has submitted a memorandum to the Joint Committee on Human Rights in relation to the Mental Health Bill, which was introduced in the House of Lords in November 2006. This was in response to the Committee's call for evidence on the Bill, with particular reference to issues of human rights compatibility which it raises.

 

Evidence to Justice 2 Committee of the Scottish Parliament

Professor Alistair MacLeary, Chairman of the Council's Scottish Committee, recently gave evidence to the Justice 2 Committee on the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill. As the bill impinges on issues devolved to the Scottish Parliament, Cathy Jamieson MSP, Minister for Justice, has lodged a legislative consent memorandum seeking the Scottish Parliament's agreement to the UK Parliament's consideration of the relevant provisions. In particular those provisions are (a) the establishment of a new Tribunals Service and an Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council and (b) providing immunity from seizure for international works of art on loan to exhibitions in this country.

The Committee's report was published on the 18 January 2007.

 

JSB Seeking Tribunals Training Director

The JSB is looking to appoint a Tribunals Training Director to work closely with the JSB's tribunals team.

The JSB Tribunals Journal is also looking to appoint Editorial board members.

JSB Training Dates

19-21 March 2007
Tribunal Skills Development
Northamptonshire

8-10 October 2007
Tribunal Skills Development
Northamptonshire

15-17 November 2007
Managing Judicial Leadership
Northamptonshire
(nomination via Pres/Head)

26-27 November 2007
Tribunal Advanced Skills Course
Northamptonshire

For further details see the JSB's Tribunals' Training Prospectus

People :

Lord Newton of Braintree: appointment extended

Lord Newton

The Lord Chancellor and Scottish Ministers have extended the appointment of Lord Newton of Braintree as Chairman of the Council on Tribunals. His term of appointment, which was due to end in October 2007, has been extended for a further 18 months. Lord Newton said: "I am delighted that I will be able to continue working with the Council at this important time both for the body itself and for administrative justice as a whole".

 

New Year's Honours 2007

Professor Genevra Richardson

Professor Genevra Richardson, Professor of Law, King's College, University of London and member of the Council on Tribunals since 2001 has been awarded the CBE in the 2007 New Year's Honours list for services to public law. Other awards given to people working in the field of administrative justice were:

  • A Knighthood for Herbert William Massie CBE, Chair, Disability Rights Commission, for services to disabled people.
  • A Knighthood for His Honour Stephen John Lindsay Oliver QC, Presiding Special Commissioner and President, VAT and Duties Tribunals; President, Financial Services and Markets Tribunal, for public service.
  • An OBE for Charles Dhanowa, Registrar, Competition Appeal Tribunal, for services to competition law.

Adjust offers its warmest congratulations to all of them.

 

Tribunal Training Register – Scotland

The third edition of the Tribunal Training Register for Scotland was published by the Council's Scottish Committee on 1 December 2006. The register lists some of the training provided to members of tribunal systems in Scotland. The Scottish Committee thanks all the tribunals in Scotland for their contribution to this publication.

Download the Register

Request a hard copy

Statute Law Database

The Statute Law Database is a new, free, official online database of revised UK primary legislation offering users a range of advanced search and navigation functions across over 30,000 items of UK primary and secondary legislation. The database, released to the public on 20 December 2006, contains primary legislation in force at 1 February 1991 and primary and secondary legislation that has been produced since that date. At this stage the primary legislation has been revised to 2002 and is expected to be completely up to date with revisions by the end of 2008.

View the database

ICE Welsh Language Scheme

The Independent Case Examiner has published a draft Welsh language scheme setting out how it will provide services to the public in the Welsh language.

Read more

BIOA 2007 Conference – a date for your diary!

The British and Irish Ombudsman Association's 2007 Conference will take place at Scarman House Conference Centre, University of Warwick on 26 and 27 April.

Read more

Planning Inspectorate Award

The Planning Inspectorate has won the Partnership Award for the Tomorrow's Planners project at the first Civil Service Diversity and Equality Awards in October 2006. The award recognised outstanding achievements in the field of diversity and equality excellence.

More about the Tomorrow's Planners project

News :

Independent Case Examiner for DWP

Anne McGuire, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the DWP, has announced her intention to appoint an Independent Case Examiner (ICE) for the DWP. The DWP undertook a pilot ICE service between October 2005 and September 2006 which investigated complaints from Jobcentre Plus, The Pension Service, Disability and Carers Service, The Rent Service, Debt Management and the Financial Assistance Scheme. Following a successful pilot period the Departmental ICE will be implemented from Spring 2007 undertaking impartial investigation of customer complaints about DWP's services.

 

DTI dispute resolution review

Department for Trade and Industry

The DTI has announced a review of the dispute resolution provisions pertaining to disputes in the workplace. Michael Gibbons, a member of the DTI's Ministerial Challenge Panel and of the Better Regulation Commission, and Chair of the Hertfordshire Family Mediation Service is leading the review which will look at options for simplifying and improving all aspects of employment dispute resolution. It is expected that Mr Gibbons will bring forward recommendations to the Secretary of State in Spring 2007.

 

ADR: Publication of Departmental Pledge Report 05/06

In March 2001 the then Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, published a formal pledge committing government departments and agencies to settle legal cases by Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) techniques in all suitable cases whenever the other side agreed to it. The Pledge Report summarises the effectiveness of the Government's commitment to using ADR and the latest report for 2005/06 has just been released. The report shows that ADR had been used in 336 cases with 241 leading to settlement (a success rate of 72%) and with estimated savings of £120.7m.

 

Consultation on a new charging regime for Immigration & Nationality Fees

The Home Office and Foreign & Commonwealth Office have recently consulted on a new charging regime for immigration and nationality fees. The consultation arises from the Government's proposals for a points-based system for managed migration and the need to consider how immigration services are paid for.

 

Harmondsworth – Serious Concerns

Anne Owers, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, has issued a report raising concerns about conditions at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre. She described the report as the 'poorest ever' issued on an immigration removal centre.

Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre holds immigration detainees, including asylum seekers, whose applications are being considered under fast-track procedures. One of the key findings of the report was that it revealed 60% of detainees at the centre had felt unsafe.

 

Council of Europe – Project Group on Administrative Law

The Council of Europe Project Group on Administrative Law, an intergovernmental committee of experts set up under the authority of the European Committee on Legal Co-operation, is responsible for carrying out the legal activities of the Council of Europe in the field of administrative law and justice. In October 2006, the Group met to finalise the preliminary draft recommendation concerning good administration and consolidated model code of good administration.

 

Parliamentary Ombudsman: Constitutional Role

The Constitution Unit and the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman hosted a joint seminar in December 2006 exploring the constitutional role of the Parliamentary Ombudsman as the Office approaches its 40th anniversary. Ann Abraham delivered a speech which examined the evolving relationship between the Ombudsman, Parliament, government, courts and the citizen.

 

Scottish Committee's Annual Report

The Scottish Committee of the Council on Tribunals has recently published its Annual Report for the period April 2005 to March 2006. The report documents the work of the committee, including over 60 visits to observe Scottish tribunal hearings.

 

Scotland: Private Sector Housing Panel

Under the recently passed Housing (Scotland) Act 2006, the Rent Assessment Panel for Scotland has been renamed as the Private Rented Housing Panel. The new tribunal will hear appeals from private tenants that the relevant repairing standard for their property has not been maintained by their landlord as well as existing rent assessment appeals under the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984

 

Transferring Tribunals to the Tribunals Service

Tribunals Service

In April 2007 two more tribunals will be joining the Tribunals Service. The Asylum Support Adjudicators (ASA) which will from April be known as the Asylum Support Tribunal, hears appeals against decisions made by the Asylum Resource Directorate. The Care Standards Tribunal (CST) hears appeals from a range of individuals, establishments and agencies in the area of social care and child and vulnerable adult protection.

 

Seminar Series: Administrative Justice

The next Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) seminar on administrative justice is on Tuesday 27 March at Queen's University, Belfast. The programme details will shortly be made available and information can be obtained from Richard Whitecross:

r.whitecross@ed.ac.uk

Research :

Developing the Tribunals Service: The Role of Research

The Senior President of Tribunals, Sir Robert Carnwath, has invited former Council member Professor Martin Partington to act as his research adviser during the first two years of the newly emerging Tribunals Service. Professor Partington's first paper 'Research Issues Paper (1) – Feedback' was released at the Council's conference. Any comments on the issues raised in the paper should be sent to Frances McCleneghan.

 

Employment Tribunal research published

EMAR (Employment Market Analysis and Research) have recently published two reports on Employment Tribunals, as part of the Employment Relations Research Series.

The first is the Findings from the survey of claimants in race discrimination employment tribunal cases (pdf, 487KB). In November 2004 DTI commissioned the British Market Research Bureau to undertake a survey of claimants in race discrimination Employment Tribunal cases. The report presents a summary of the findings.

The second is a Review of judgements in race discrimination employment tribunal cases (pdf, 285KB). The DTI commissioned a joint University of Stirling and Law at Work research team to carry out a review of judgements in race discrimination Employment Tribunal cases. This consisted of a review of the texts of judgements, and where possible the claim and response forms in 100 cases.

One further report of interest, which was published in April 2006 is The experience of claimants in race discrimination employment tribunal cases (pdf, 855KB). This report explores the perception and subjective experiences of claimants who were involved in Race Relations Act Employment Tribunal Cases.

 

Nuffield Inquiry on Empirical Legal Research

The final report of the Nuffield Inquiry on Empirical Legal Research has been published. The Inquiry found strong evidence of a developing crisis in the capacity of UK universities to undertake empirical legal research and recommended an integrated strategy to sustain and develop research capacity in this area.

 

Public Services Ombudsmen: research project

Economic and Social Research Council

'Public Services Ombudsmen and Administrative Justice: Models, Roles, Methods and Relationships' is the title of a new research project headed by Brian Thompson from the Liverpool Law School, Professor Trevor Buck at DeMontfort University and Dr Richard Kirkham at the University of Sheffield. The study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, intends to compare public services ombudsmen (PSO) in the UK, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand and consider the PSO's place in the administrative justice system in the UK. The research team hope to build up a comprehensive account of the PSO in the 21st century.

 

Economic and Social Research Council –
European Regional Ombudsmen Seminar

Regional ombudsmen from the UK, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Spain met in November 2006 for the fifth annual seminar of the regional ombudsmen of EU member states. The seminar, which was the first to take place in the UK, was titled 'Working together to promote good administration and defend citizens' rights in the EU' and included presentations on a wide range of subjects such as knowledge-sharing, improving access for the citizen and dealing with complaints from vulnerable groups in society.

 

Tribunal User Groups – Survey

The Council is about to undertake a survey of tribunal user groups (sometimes known as stakeholder groups), in order to gain a broader picture of the type of arrangements that tribunals have in place for user representatives. The Council plans to survey user representatives with a view to obtaining feedback. If you have any views on tribunal user groups, the Council would be very interested to hear from you.

Email us your views

FOI Live 2007

FOI Live 2007 is the fifth annual Information Rights Conference for the public sector, organised by The Constitution Unit, Department for Consitutional Affairs and the Information Commissioner's Office. The event is designed to bring together delegates from across the public, private and voluntary sector to learn about new policy developments in Freedom of Information and the latest case-law. Speakers for the 2007 conference include Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner and John Angel, Chairman of the Information Tribunal.

Registration and further details are available at www.foilive.com

Users Focus :

Bar Pro Bono Unit

"Pro bono work is not a substitute for publicly funded legal services"

This year marks the 10th Birthday of the Bar Pro Bono Unit. Russell Holland, Caseworker at the Unit, reports on its achievements and future plans.

 

Comment :

The Protection of Personal Information in Tribunal Records – The Canadian Experience

"Should the records of adjudicative tribunals be closed to the public if they contain personal information about an individual?"

Colin McNairn, Chair of the Financial Services Tribunal of Ontario and co-author of books on the Law of Privacy in Canada, talks to Adjust about the protection of personal information in tribunal records from a Canadian perspective.

 

The Mental Health Review Tribunal – a Time for Change

"The transition of the MHRT from the Department of Health to the Tribunals Service took a great deal of planning and effort but a lot has been achieved in the integration process"

On 3 April 2006 the Mental Health Review Tribunals for England moved from the Department of Health (DH) to the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) to become part of the newly formed Tribunals Service. This was a significant milestone that marked the end of a year in which the Secretariat had also undergone a substantial physical move to consolidate its offices into one site in central London. It also heralded the beginning of a period of change for the Tribunal as part of its new parent department.

In this profile of the MHRT, Adjust finds out more about the changes taking place within the MHRT and talks to Jack Fargher, Head of the MHRT Secretariat, about the challenges the MHRT faces.

 

Helping the poor struggler

"Perhaps we dispute deciders should be sprayed with different colours to tell the parties what base we each start from"

Tony Bingham, an arbitrator, adjudicator, mediator and barrister, examines the roles played by dispute deciders in an article which first appeared in Building Magazine on 13 October 2006.

 

Tribunals Service Early Dispute Resolution Project

"The Department for Constitutional Affairs ... operates under a public service agreement target to deal with matters outside of the courts and tribunals wherever possible"

The Tribunals Service is currently running an Early Dispute Resolution project which aims to test whether alternative dispute resolution processes can be effective in dealing with some tribunal cases, without the need for a hearing. The project approach involves operating and evaluating pilot ADR services. The first is looking at mediation by tribunal judiciary in Employment Tribunal discrimination claims, and the second looks at early neutral evaluation of disability living allowance appeals in the Social Security and Child Support Appeals (SSCSA) Tribunal. Ultimately, the project will produce recommendations about ADR in mainstream Tribunals Service provision. Tony Wall talks to Adjust about the project.

Advancing Administrative Justice