Complete Clarity Solicitors


Tribunals Bill welcomed by Justice Committee

The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee has published its stage 1 report into the Tribunals (Scotland) Bill, in which it welcomes the proposals contained in the Bill and sets out a number of recommendations.

The Bill is designed to create an improved system of independence and better quality of service for tribunal users in Scotland, including those using Employment Tribunals. It will do this through the creation of a new, two-tier structure for devolved tribunals – a First-tier and an Upper Tribunal – to be known as the Scottish Tribunals.

The vast majority of cases will be heard by the First-tier Tribunal and the role of the Upper Tribunal will be to hear appeals from the First-tier. Both tribunals will be headed by the Lord President of the Court of Session.

“We believe this Bill brings forward a much-needed restructuring of the tribunals system in Scotland,” commented Committee Convener Christine Grahame MSP. “It is a system that aims to help individuals resolve their case against bodies or another party, without resorting to the costly and more adversarial courts system. This Bill should make it simpler and more accessible for individuals to do that.”

“While our Committee recognises the reservations of some witnesses we heard from on perceived moves towards more “judicialisation” of the tribunals’ process, we believe there are enough safeguards in place to ensure each tribunals independence is upheld,” she added.

The Committee also set out a number of other recommendations in its report, including:

  • The Scottish Government should resolve the delay in the production of rules for the Upper Tribunal as a matter of urgency.
  • The Scottish Government should set out a definition of what a tribunal is within the Bill, in order to protect the character and nature of tribunals.
  • Where a tribunal proposes introducing fees and expenses for the first time, consultation should be carried out with users and stakeholders of the tribunal.

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