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A paper concerning assessing the value of legal Tribunals

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  1. Introduction
  2. The history of tribunals
  3. An alternative to the court system
  4. Administrative tribunals established by statute
  5. Employment tribunals
  6. Two basic principles of natural justice
  7. Sir Andrew Leggatt's appointment by the Lord Chancellor to undertake a review of the tribunal system
  8. Conclusion
  9. Bibliography

It has become the case that over the course of the 20th century an ever-increasing number of tribunals have come into existence alongside the ordinary civil courts, dealing with a wide variety of disputes, usually between the citizen and the state. Although tribunals do not adjudicate in all civil matters, some family law matters in particular, they are considered to provide an informal and relatively inexpensive mechanism for the resolution of disputes. The vast numbers of tribunals and their importance have increased so significantly that it is no longer justifiable to regard them merely as an appendage to the ordinary courts of law, to ease the pressure off them, but rather as an integral part of the English Legal System.

[...] Employment tribunals were originally established as industrial tribunals with a somewhat limited role by the Industrial Training Act 1964, since when their jurisdiction has extended considerably, notably under the employment legislation of the 1960s and 70s. Their composition, jurisdiction and procedure are now regulated by the Employment Relations Act 1999. Employment tribunals now have the power to determine over fifty different types of complaint arising from the employment relationship. They are supported by the Employment Tribunals Service, which is an executive agency of the Department of Trade and Industry, and operates from 34 permanent offices across Britain to accommodate the needs of employers and employees. [...]

[...] Since the majority of domestic tribunals are not presided over by a judge, or besides matters involving the legal profession, even a legally qualified person, it is essential that the proceedings are conducted observing a substantial degree of procedural fairness. Two basic principles of natural justice are applied: that the person making the decision should be independent and unbiased, so as person should be a judge in his own case'; and also that both sides must be given a fair hearing. [...]

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