Tribunals have operated for over 200 years. They are essentially specialised courts dealing in specific areas of legal dispute such as employment, housing, immigration, mental health, social benefits, and tax. This chapter explains the development of tribunals from the late eighteenth century to the present day. It examines the major reforms that have taken place in the twenty-first century, resulting in most tribunals being re-organised into ‘chambers’ within the First-tier Tribunal and the Upper Tribunal. The chapter explains the composition of tribunals and the rules on appointment of tribunal members, including lay members. It explains the ways in which tribunal decisions may be challenged, either by way of an appeal to another tribunal or to the mainstream courts, or through judicial review. The chapter examines the advantages of tribunals over mainstream courts but also considers whether, through a process known as ‘legalism’, tribunals are becoming too much like the mainstream courts.
Mark Elliott and Jason Varuhas
This chapter deals with statutory tribunals, the growth of which mirrors the dramatic expansion of the state itself. It first explains what tribunals are and whether they are a good thing before discussing two important turning points in the development of tribunals: the Franks Report, published in 1957, and the Leggatt Review, published in 2001. It then considers the independence of tribunals, focusing on their judicial leadership as well as tribunal appointments. It also examines some of the key issues and themes which arise from tribunal procedure, paying attention to formality, representation, and the style of tribunal proceedings. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the structure of the tribunals system and its relationship with the courts, with particular emphasis on the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) and the Upper Tribunal (UT), appeals against tribunal decisions, and judicial review by and of the UT.