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Adjudication Panel for England becomes known as First-tier Tribunal (Local Government Standards in England)
On the 18th January the functions of the Adjudication Panel for England were transferred to the First-tier Tribunal (Local Government Standards in England) and the Adjudication Panel for England was abolished. The First-tier Tribunal sits in the General Regulatory Chamber with Charity, Gambling, Information, Estate Agents, Claims Management, Consumer Credit and Transport Tribunals.
The role of the First-tier Tribunal is to hear cases referred to it by an Ethical Standards Officer or a Standards Committee following an investigation. The Tribunal will also hear appeals by a subject member against the decision of a Standards Committee.
There have been changes to the powers and procedures of the Tribunal.
Powers and Procedures
The First-tier Tribunal now has additional powers and procedures. It has the power to summon witnesses or require witnesses to produce documents relating to its hearings.
All Tribunal hearings can now be conducted either orally or by written representations with the consent of all parties.
Hearings can be conducted by less than 3 Tribunal members.
The President of the Adjudication Panel for England has been appointed as a Principle Judge of the First-tier Tribunal, legal members are now Judges and lay members are members.
Previously any appeal from the Adjudication Panel was heard at the High Court. This process has now changed. Appeals will now be heard by the Upper Tribunal. The Upper Tribunal is an appellate tribunal created by the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. The Administrative Appeals Chamber is the part of the Upper Tribunal which hears and decides appeals from decisions of the General Regulatory Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal.
Who can appeal to the Upper Tribunal?
Any party may appeal to the Administrative Appeals Chamber of the Upper Tribunal if they can show that the First-tier Tribunal made an error of law.
Additionally, the subject member has the right to appeal findings of fact, if their appeal is against
(a) a decision that they failed to comply with a code of conduct,
(b) a decision imposing suspension or another sanction
Appeals by other parties
A further change to the appeals process is that if a subject member is successful at the First-tier Tribunal, it is still possible for an Ethical Standards Officer or Standards Committee to appeal on a point of law to the Upper Tribunal. The First-tier Tribunal will notify the subject member if any of these parties wish to appeal.
The First-tier Tribunal now has the power to make an order for costs if the Tribunal considers that a party has acted unreasonably in bringing, defending or conducting the proceedings. It may make an order for costs following an application or on its own initiative.
This will mean that the Tribunal can award costs against a standards committee, Ethical Standards Officer or subject member if they have acted unreasonably in the conduct of their investigations or hearings. The First-tier Tribunal may also make an award for wasted costs incurred by any legal or other representative where the Tribunal considers that they have acted negligently, improperly or unreasonably in bringing, defending or conducting proceedings.
For more information and detailed guidance please see http://www.adjudicationpanel.tribunals.gov.uk/