The tribunals, courts and enforcement act 2007 received royal assent on 9 july 2007. It created a new judicial and legal framework.

Tribunals are judicial bodies, they specialise in deciding disputes in particular areas of the law.  Most tribunal jurisdictions are part of a structure created by the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. 

Administrative tribunals have been established by statute. Their workload is large and the nature of the hearings range from workplace disputes involving employers and employees to appeals against decisions made by government departments such as decisions involving immigration, benefit payments and asylum.

Tribunals were created by Parliament to resolve disputes which needed specialist knowledge. Social security tribunals and employment tribunals, to name but two, have taken a large workload out of the courts and provided a quicker and less expensive way of dealing with these types of disputes. Tribunals are less formal and are dealt with by people with specialised knowledge and experience in a particular area.

Domestic (Disciplinary) tribunals are bodies appointed within a profession or organisation to decide disputes. For example Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal or the Disciplinary Committee - Professionals, which controls the professional activities of a veterinary surgeon.

Tribunal panel members are not legally qualified, they will be specialists in a certain area, such as doctors or surveyors, and will be required to give specialist knowledge to the tribunal. They will be paid for the work they do based on the number of sittings or days worked. They are usually appointed for a period of five years to begin with and their appointment will then be reviewed and renewed if they agree and if they are still qualified to provide the expertise required. A legally qualified Tribunal Judge will usually chair the tribunal hearing. The legally qualified chairman will advise on points of law but the tribunal members play an equal part in the decision making and can question parties and witnesses.

Procedures in a tribunal are less formal than in the Courts and panel members do not wear robes or wigs, they will just wear normal business clothes.

The Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 created a new structure for tribunals. There are now two tribunals in the unified tribunals system  The two tribunals are the First-tier Tribunal and the Upper Tribunal.

The First-tier Tribunal is a fact-finding tribunal which hears appeals against the decisions from government departments and other public bodies.

The Upper Tribunal hears appeals from the First-tier Tribunal on points of law. Further appeals may be made, with permission, to the Court of Appeal. It also has primary jurisdiction to hear certain matters including finance and tax matters.

Courts and Tribunals - GOV.UK

Introduction to tribunals

The basics of tribunal representation (PDF)

Tribunal Panel Member - Judiciary

Take your employer to an employment tribunal - GOV.UK

Tribunals guidance for practitioners and citizens - Ministry of Justice

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