News In Focus
Radical Scottish tribunal reforms out for views
A unified, integrated structure for Scotland's tribunal system under the judicial leadership of the Lord President is put forward in a consultation launched today by the Scottish Government.
The proposals intend to create two generic tribunals, a First-tier and an Upper-tier, in which to transfer the separately operating tribunals in Scotland. There would also be new rule-making procedures and new arrangements for the selection and appointment of tribunal members, with judicial independence underpinned by bringing the tribunal judiciary under the leadership of the Lord President.
Tribunals would be internally organised according to case type, with clear onward rights of appeal established in accordance with the principles of civil justice. The system would integrate with the system of UK tribunals operating in Scotland. The Lord President would have powers of delegation for leadership functions, including to a new President of Scottish Tribunals with responsibility for the efficient disposal of business.
In place of the current separate appointment processes for each tribunal, the judicial leadership would be able to authorise tribunal members appointed to one chamber to sit in another, without a requirement for separate appointment. It would be for the judicial leadership to develop protocols on how such authorisations would work in practice.
Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs Roseanna Cunningham said: “We are now embarking on the most radical reforms of our courts and tribunals systems for at least a century through our Making Justice Work programme. Our justice system needs to be better connected and make more effective use of modern technology to ensure a service that is high quality, continually improving, efficient and responsive to local people's needs.
“The character of tribunals has changed over recent decades; they are no longer considered to be administrative bodies but are now rightly perceived to be an integral part of the judicial system. These proposals underpin and strengthen that development.
“The current system is complex and fragmented, and important questions have rightly been raised by third-party expert reviews around tribunal independence, system coherence and the quality of service provided to users."
Ministers are committed to bringing forward a bill within the current Parliament.
Click here to access the consultation. Responses are requested by 15 June 2012.