Martin Partington: Spotlight on the Justice System

Keeping the English Legal System under review

What should replace the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council?

with one comment

The demise of the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council (AJTC) has been sought by the Government for some time. It is one of the bodies destined for abolition in the ‘bonfire of the quangos’ – which has been the subject of a number of comments in the blog. But the AJTC has strong supporters, particularly in the House of Lords. And before the final rites are completed – the making of an order under the Public Bodies Act 2011 – the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee decided to take one final look at the arguments for and against abolition.
Their report, published on 8 March 2012, regards the arguments used by Government in favour of abolition as pretty thin. As their press release notes: “The Committee found that the Government’s rationale for winding up the AJTC was questionable, and that the Ministry of Justice may not have either the resources or the expertise to take on its functions.” It also thought the claimed financial savings were unlikely to materialise.
The Committee also noted that the Government itself had proposed “to establish a “group of administrative justice experts and key stakeholders—particularly those who represent the views of users” to “provide a valuable forum for sharing information and best practice, and […] to test policy ideas”. We understand that this user group is likely to include some former members of the AJTC.” The Committee recommends that the Government provide further information on its proposals for the membership and operation of this group of experts and key stakeholders.
To me this looks to have the potential for the creation of a new body with arguably some of the AJTC functions. Perhaps the main difference will be that members of the new body will not be paid!
In my view the extent of the terrain of administrative justice is so great that sensible and coherent policy of benefit to the citizen simply cannot be developed in one Government department without support from across government and input from researchers able to view what is going on in other countries.
To read the report of the Select Committee, go to http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmpubadm/1621/162102.htm

NB I should declare an interest; I was appointed specialist adviser to the Committee for this report.

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Written by lwtmp

March 14, 2012 at 10:09 am

Posted in Chapter 4, chapter 6

One Response

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  1. Interesting that this body is facing the axe. It (and its predecessor) have served the tribunal system well for 54 years and brought about many improvements. Maybe the fact that there is now a new tribunal structure under the leadership of a Senior President of tribunals has something to do with this. The AJTC may be seen as something of a nuisance?

    http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/about-the-judiciary/the-judiciary-in-detail/judicial+roles/tribunals/senior-president-tribunals

    Whatever is set up within MoJ (or HMCTS) as a replacement will not command the same respect and will not be independent.

    ObiterJ

    March 16, 2012 at 6:04 pm


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