Promoting Fairness and Redress
The Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council keeps under review the administrative justice system as a whole with a view to making it accessible, fair and efficient. We seek to ensure that the relationships between the courts, tribunals, ombudsmen and alternative dispute resolution providers satisfactorily reflect the needs of users.
Letter to Justice Minister Helen Grant MP
On 15 April the Justice Minister, Helen Grant MP, wrote to the AJTC Chairman advising that, notwithstanding reports from the Commons Justice Committee and the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee in the Lords, the Government remained committed to abolition of the AJTC. On the same date she wrote, in similar terms, to the Chairs of the Parliamentary Committees, Sir Alan Beith MP and Lord Goodlad.
The AJTC Chairman, Richard Thomas CBE, replied to Mrs Grant on 22 April setting out the Council's response. The text of the Chairman's letter can be viewed here (pdf 54kb)
Letter to Iain Duncan Smith
The Chairman wrote on 11 April to Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to raise a number of specific concerns about aspects of the welfare reform programme. The issues concerned include mandatory redonsideration, tribunal volumes, Council Tax reduction schemes and the replecement of the Social Fund.
The letter, which was copied to the Lord Chancellor, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, The Senior President of Tribunals and the Social Security Advisory Committee is available here.
AJTC Research Agenda
The AJTC has today (20 March 2013) published 'A Research Agenda for Adminstrative Justice'.
The report focuses on the Council's role in promoting research into the adminstrative justice system. It draws attention to a (non exhuastive) range of key issues requiring further research.
AJTC Annual Report 2011-12
The AJTC has today published its Annual Report for 2011-12. It has been laid before Parliament, the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly in accordance with the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. The Annual Report of the Welsh Commitee has also been published today and laid before the Welsh Assembly. It is available to view/download on the Welsh Committee Publications Page.
Report of the Justice Select Committee
The AJTC welcomes the Justice Committee's report, published on Friday 15 March, which highlights our "vital role" in providing independent oversight of the administrative justice system. We are making clear to minsters that we stand ready for constructive discussions about how, as the Committee recommends, we can best focus more on improving initial decision-making by public bodies and improving access to redress where it is needed
Chairman's Letter to Michael Gove
Our Chairman, Richard Thomas CBE, has written to The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Education. The letter welcomes the recent report 'Unleashing Greatness - getting the best out of an academised system' published by the Academies Commission. The Commission's key findings chime with those of the AJTC and it's predecessor organisation the Council on Tribunals regarding admission appeal arrangements. The Secretary of State is asked to consider options to improve the effectiveness and transparency of these arrangements. The letter can be read here. The report is available on the Commission's Website.
AJTC Scottish Committee - Advice to Ministers
The AJTC Scottish Committee has provided advice to Scottish Ministers in relation to the establishment of a non-statutory advisory body by Scottish Government to discharge the functions of the Scottish Committee of the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council (AJTC), so far as practicable, following the abolition of the AJTC.
The full document can be viewed or downloaded here (pdf 250kb)
AJTC Evidence to DCLG Select Committee
The AJTC has responded to a call for evidence from the Communities and Local Government Select Committee which is looking into the implementation of Welfare Reform by Local Authorities.
The AJTC is concerned about a number of aspects of the reform programme including appeal rights, the impact of reform in Scotland and Wales and the abolition of the Social Fund.
The full response can be viewed here
Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council - Proposed abolition
On 18 December 2012 the Government laid before Parliament a draft order abolishing the AJTC under the provisions of section 11 (1) of the Public Bodies Act 2011.
In an open letter to Helen Grant MP, Under Secretary of State, dated 22 November 2012 our Chairman had sought to persuade the Government that it should defer the abolition process. The letter stated that the AJTC does not believe that its functions can simply be brought inside the MoJ or discharged by the MoJ alone.
It is a matter of regret to the AJTC that the Government has nevertheless decided to proceed, but the Council of course accepts that this is a decision that the government is entitled to take, subject to parliamentary procedure. Under the provisions of the Public Bodies Act 2011 the draft order will be scrutinised by the House of Lords Secondary Legislation Committee.
The AJTC will be pleased to participate in the scrutiny process as required by the Committee.
Employment Tribunal Rules Consultation
The AJTC has responded (23 November 2012) to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills consultation which follows Mr Justice Underhill's review of the Emplyment Tribunal's Procedure Rules. The AJTC broadly welcomes the outcome of the review which has resulted a set of new procedures which are for the most part written in much simpler language. It does however think there is still scope for further simplification. The full response can be read here
AJTC Conference 2012
The AJTC Conference for 2012 was held at the BIS Conference Centre, One Victoria Street, on Thursday 22 November. Around 130 delegates attended from across the landscape of Administrative Justice including Tribunal Judges, Ombudsmen and Academics.
Bernard Jenkin MP, Chair of the Public Administration Select Committee gave the keynote speech including a tribute to the AJTC's first Chairman, Lord Newton of Braintree, who died earlier this year.
He was followed by the AJTC Chairman Richard Thomas who, by way of a PowerPoint, took the conference through his Open Letter to Helen Grant MP
The rest of the programme can be viewed here
Speaker's PowerPoint slides have been merged into a single pdf (1.75MB) for ease of viewing/downloading
On 20 June 2012 the AJTC held a seminar in London entitled 'Towards a Review of Public Service Ombudsmen'. A report of the event has been published and is available for download. It will also appear in the next edition of our electronic newsletter Adjust.
Best Practice Guidance for School Admission and Exclusion Appeals
The AJTC and National Association of School Appeals Clerks have today (18 October 2012) jointly published guidance for School Admisson and Exclusion Appeals. Both documents are intended to provide some best practice guidance for admission authorities, Headteachers and those attending or acting as clerks to appeal or review panels dealing with admission to, or exclusion from, schools. While having no statutory basis thay are intended to supplement the Schools Admissions Appeals Code and other guidance issued by the Dept for Education.
Family Visit Visa Appeals and clause 24 of the Crime and Courts Bill
On 8 October 2012 the AJTC Chairman wrote to Mark Harper MP, Minister of State for Immigration, setting out the AJTC's concerns about the abolition of Family Visit Visa appeals via clause 24 of the Courts and Crimes Bill.
A copy of the letter can be viewed here
AJTC Scottish Committee Report on Decisions With No Right of Appeal.
Right to Appeal: A review of decisions made by Scottish public bodies where there is no right of appeal or where the appeal procedure is inaccessible or inappropriate.
The AJTC’s Scottish Committee is today publishing a report highlighting decisions by public bodies in Scotland where there is no right of appeal or where the existing right of appeal is inappropriate or inaccessible. The report is informed by the principle that ‘unless there are compelling reasons to the contrary, citizens should have the right of appeal against administrative decisions’. It identifies five devolved policy areas where there are no appeal rights or where the procedures appear to be inaccessible or inappropriate, and in each case, asks whether something should be done about this and, if so, what.
The report’s findings follow an earlier consultation exercise with key stakeholders in each of the five policy areas. The Report, which is addressed to Scottish Ministers, recommends the setting up of new tribunal jurisdictions or the tightening of existing procedures concerning community care decisions, a wide range of housing decisions, decisions concerned with student fees and grants, legal aid decisions and decisions of Local Planning Review Bodies. The Report is published today, 3 September 2012. The full report, executive summary and associated Press Release are available by following the relevant links above.
General Medical Council - Consultation on Fitness to Practice Process
The AJTC has responded (06 August) to the General Medical Council's consultation "The future of adjudication: making changes to our fitness to practise rules and to our constitution of panels and Investigation Committee rules". The Council welcomes the over riding aims of the proposed new rules which reflect good practice in the unified Tribunals operating within HMCTS. It does however have one concern regarding the process for substituting panel members and circumstances where it might, in the interest of justice, be neccessary to re-start the hearing.
Public Administration Select Committee - Oversight of Administrative Justice: AJTC response
On 16 July the AJTC wrote to The Public Administration Select Committee in response to the Committee’s report “Future oversight of administrative justice: the proposed abolition of the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council”, published on 8 March 2012.
The AJTC welcomed the Committee’s insightful report and the attention the Committee has given to administrative justice which, as the Committee points out “may seem obscure and technical, but it touches upon the lives, the standards of living, and rights of millions of citizens every year”. The response confirmed that the AJTC remains of the view that the proposed abolition is misguided and that it shared the view of the Committee that “the role of the AJTC in providing an independent overview of the system is … one of vital national importance.”
The full text can be found here
Putting it Right - Better Ways to Avoid and Resolve Disputes
A more strategic approach is needed to prevent and resolve disputes between public bodies and individuals, argues a new report from the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council (AJTC) published today, 26 June 2012. To save money for the taxpayer and deliver a better service for users, more must be done by government to avoid mistakes in the first place and to ensure that appropriate and proportionate ways of putting things right are available for when things do go wrong.
Lord Newton of Braintree 1937 - 2012
Lord (Tony) Newton of Braintree, the first Chairman of the AJTC, died on 25 March 2012.
Dispute Resolution Without Hearings - Report of Workshop
On Monday 13 February 2012 the AJTC held a workshop to examine systems for resolving disputes without hearings. The session heard four speakers from organisations that handled disputes without the requirement for an attended hearing. A round table discussion followed.
A report has now been agreed and is available to download.
Public Administration Select Committee - Oversight of Adminstrative Justice
The Public Administration Select Committee published its report “Future oversight of administrative justice: the proposed abolition of the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council” on 8 March 2012. The report is accompanied by a Press Release.
Adjust Newsletter - December 2012
The AJTC's quarterly electronic newsletter features all the latest news and articles from the Council and across the administrative justice world. View
The latest edition of the AJTC's quarterly electronic newsletter.
Devolution of Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans: Consultation on Successor Arrangements
The Scottish Committee responded to the Scottish Government consultation on the Devolution of Community Care Grants: Successor Arrangements.
(09 November 2011) More..
Tribunal Reform in Scotland
This is the second report produced by Elaine Samuel.
(02 June 2011) More..