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Following a consultation exercise carried out in Spring 2012, the Scottish Parliament has now published legislation to create a more user-friendly and simplified structure for Scotland’s tribunals.

Tribunals are a key part of the legal system, protecting people from potentially unfair treatment in a range of specialist areas such as support for learning, health, land and housing.

However, according to the Scottish Government, the current system – which has developed in an ad-hoc and unplanned way over many years – is long overdue for reform.

It has therefore drafted the Tribunals Bill, which is designed to create a structure which is more user-friendly, independent and less complex. The Bill will:

  • Create a simple two-tier structure for tribunals – a First-tier Tribunal for hearing first decision cases and Upper Tribunal Scotland 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), with the responsibility for ensuring tribunal business runs effectively and efficiently.
  • Establish new independent appointment arrangements.
  • Continue to protect the distinctive nature and culture of each particular jurisdiction.

“Tribunals are a central part of our justice system, providing access to justice for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. However the current system is overdue for reform – it has developed over a long time in different ways, with differing leadership structures, appointment processes and ways to appeal,” explained Minister for Legal Affairs Roseanna Cunningham.

“By simplifying the tribunals’ structure and standardising some processes, the Bill will make the system more user-friendly and effective, saving time and resources while retaining the benefits of the current specialised tribunals,” she concluded.

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