Headlines: August 17th, 2001

A new report recommends wholesale overhaul of a part of the legal system that handles more cases than all the civil courts put together.Tribunals handling civil disputes over issues from unfair dismissal to property rights take on more than a million cases each year.

Such informal justice has grown in use in haphazard form. Most cases people bring are against the State in some form, so many tribunals have been set up and run by the relevant department, with almost no interconnection or conformity between tribunal procedures or practices. Recognizing their ever-increasing significance in the legal system, the Lord Chancellor asked Sir Andrew Leggatt to undertake a review.

In Tribunals for Users – One System, One Service he makes far-reaching recommendations, including separation between ministers and other authorities whose policies and decisions are tested by tribunals, and the minister who appoints and supports them.

The report suggests the administration of tribunals should become the responsibility of the Lord Chancellor, who should also assume responsibility for all appointments to tribunals.

Interested parties now have until 30 November to comment.

Link: www.lcd.gov.uk