Legislation to make Scotland’s devolved tribunals simpler and more flexible while bringing improvements to their structure, management and organisation was passed at the Scottish Parliament.
Tribunals are a key part of the legal system and are, in the main, an informal means of resolving disputes in areas like land, learning, charities, health and housing.
Having passed Stage 3 the Tribunals Bill will restructure the current system, which has developed in an ad-hoc way over many years, while continuing to protect the distinctive nature and culture of each particular jurisdiction. The Bill will:
• create a simple two-tier system - a First-tier Tribunal for hearing first decisions ( into which the majority of tribunal jurisdictions will be transferred) and an Upper Tribunal (primarily for appeals from the First-tier)
• Bring judicial leadership under the remit of the Lord President
• Create a new office, the President of Scottish Tribunals (PST), to assist the Lord President with his new duties
• Establish safeguards to protect all jurisdictions and ensure all individual characteristics and specialisms are secure
• Ensure proceedings are accessible, fair to all parties and handled quickly and efficiently
•Establish new independent appointment arrangements
Minister for Legal Affairs Roseanna Cunningham said:
“I welcome the successful passage of the Tribunals Bill through Parliament. The bill puts people at the centre of the tribunals system and underlines our commitment to improving access to justice.
“The Bill will create a user-friendly framework for devolved tribunals, simplifying the structure, guaranteeing independence and introducing a single appointment system for members whilst retaining the specialism of each individual jurisdiction.
“Meanwhile, the new leadership structure will allow opportunities for tribunal members to share best practice, knowledge and experience in delivering a high quality service to the Scottish people.”
Notes to editors
The Tribunals (Scotland) Bill, includes provisions to establish a new, simplified statutory framework for devolved tribunals in Scotland. The Bill creates a simple two-tier structure for tribunals; brings tribunals under the judicial leadership of the Lord President; creates a new post – the President of Scottish Tribunals – to support the Lord President; and establishes new independent appointment arrangements. The Justice Committee passed the Bill at Stage 2 on February 4, 2014.