Appointment of Chair of the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council
28 April 2009
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State Jack Straw has appointed Richard Thomas as the new Chair of the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council (AJTC) with the agreement of the Scottish and Welsh Ministers.
Secretary of State Jack Straw said:
‘I am very pleased to announce that Richard Thomas will be taking up post as the new Chair of the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council on 1 September.
‘The AJTC’s remit extends across the whole of the administrative justice system; its central role is to make administrative justice accessible, fair and efficient. This is important for the justice system and everyone who uses it.’
Richard Thomas has been the Information Commissioner since November 2002 with a range of responsibilities under the Freedom of Information Act and Data Protection Act and related laws. He retires from the post on 28 June 2009. His previous career has included:
- Director of Public Policy at Clifford Chance
- Director of Consumer Affairs at the Office of Fair Trading
- Head of Public Affairs and Legal Officer at the National Consumer Council
- Solicitor with the Citizens Advice Bureau Service and Freshfields.
He has also previously held various public appointments, including membership of the Lord Chancellor’s Civil Justice Review Advisory Committee and the Board of the Financial Ombudsman Service. He has worked on a range of projects aimed at improving access to justice, including small claims courts and ombudsman schemes.
He is currently Deputy Chairman of the Consumers Association - publishers of Which? Magazine – and a Trustee of the Whitehall and Industry Group.
Richard Thomas said today:
‘The Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council has a key role in improving public justice – promoting confidence in the arrangements for resolving disputes between citizens and the public sector.
‘I am looking forward to taking up this role and carrying forward the excellent start which the Council has made under Lord Newton’s leadership.’
Richard Thomas has been appointed for a period of four years. He will succeed the Right Honourable Lord Newton of Braintree OBE, DL whose appointment has been extended from 1 April 2009 for a period of five months.
Notes to editors
- The AJTC is an independent advisory non-departmental public body sponsored by the Ministry of Justice. Its function is to keep under review the administrative justice system as a whole, with a view to making it accessible, fair and efficient. The Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council was created by the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 and is the successor body to the Council on Tribunals.. Its purpose is to help make administrative justice and tribunals increasingly accessible, fair and effective by playing a pivotal role in the development of coherent principles and good practice; promoting understanding, learning and continuous improvement; and ensuring the needs of users are central. More about the AJTC can be found on its website.
- Schedule 7 to the 2007 Act makes provision about the AJTC’s membership. The AJTC must consist of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and no fewer than ten, but no more than fifteen appointed members. Of these, either two or three are to be appointed by the Scottish Ministers with the concurrence of the Lord Chancellor and the Welsh Ministers; either one or two are to be appointed by the Welsh Ministers with the concurrence of the Lord Chancellor and the Scottish Ministers; and the remainder are to be appointed by the Lord Chancellor with the concurrence of the Scottish Ministers and the Welsh Ministers. Schedule 7 provides that the Lord Chancellor must nominate one of the appointed members as AJTC Chair after consultation with the Scottish Ministers and the Welsh Ministers.
- The remuneration for the post of Chair is £55,223 per annum (currently under review), based on an average two and a half days per week.
- Mr Thomas’s appointment was made in accordance with the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice. All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. In accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointees’ political activity (if any declared) to be made public. Richard Thomas has declared no current political activity.
- Richard Thomas is currently the Information Commissioner, which is a Crown appointment. He stands down from this post on 28th June when his second term of office comes to an end. Apart from his appointment as Chair of the AJTC, Mr Thomas does not hold any other Ministerial Appointments. Richard Thomas will succeed the Rt. Hon. Lord Newton of Braintree OBE, DL, whose appointment has been extended to ensure that the AJTC was not without a chairman between 1 April and 1 September.
- The Lord Chancellor has extended Lord Newton’s appointment with the agreement of the Scottish and the Welsh Ministers. The extension was also made with the agreement of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. Lord Newton was Chairman of the AJTC’s predecessor body, the Council on Tribunals, from October 1999 and he has led it through the transition into its new role.
- Lord Newton has been a life peer since 1997, after 23 years as a Conservative MP for Braintree, Essex. During that period, he held many ministerial offices, including Secretary of State for Social Security (1989 - 1992) and Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (1992 - 1997). He is currently Chairman of the Honours Committee for Community, Voluntary and Local Services.
- Lord Newton holds two other ministerial appointments. He is currently Chairman of Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (remuneration £20,587 per annum) and Chairman of the Tax Law Rewrite Steering Committee (unremunerated). Lord Newton is a Conservative peer and President of the Witham Conservative Association.
- For more information, please call Ministry of Justice Press Office on 020 3334 3536.