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Chapter

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.