Martin Partington: Spotlight on the Justice System

Keeping the English Legal System under review

Merging Courts and Tribunals: new announcement

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In April 2010, I noted the statement of the then Labour Lord Chancellor that he intended to merge the Court service and the Tribunal service. This programme, the Courts and Tribunals Integration Project, is – under the new Government – developing rapidly. On September 15th, the Conservative Lord Chancellor  announced that he hopes the new integrated structure will start to operate in April 2011.

This will have profound implications for the judiciary who work in both the courts and the tribunals. While it may well enable those who manage court business to use judicial manpower more flexibly, the merged framework may well result in the loss some of the well recognised advantages of tribunals, namely their informality of procedure, ‘the enabling role’ and similar attributes.

I have argued elsewhere that courts have much to learn from tribunals, in particular how to handle litigants in person. However, the ignorance of most court judiciary about the work and ethos of the tribunal judiciary will mean that, without strong and enlightened judicial leadership, such lessons are unlikely to be learned.

The Lord Chancellor’s statement is at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm100916/wmstext/100916m0001.htm#10091614000227

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Written by lwtmp

September 24, 2010 at 3:27 pm

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