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Reform of the Justice System

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Introduction

Reform of the Justice System is one of Her Majesty's Government's priorities. Since 1997 they have implemented major improvements in the criminal and civil courts. In 2001 Sir Andrew Leggatt was asked to review the Tribunal System. In August 2001, the Government published Sir Andrew's radical blueprint for reform Tribunals for Users: One System, One Service. Since then the Government have been determining how best to meet the challenge set by Sir Andrew. They have taken a wide range of views, including through a formal consultation exercise. The government has decided that the best way to take Tribunal reform forward is to bring most non-developed central government tribunals together into a single service. The service will reflect the needs and specialism of individual jurisdictions and will in particular respect the difference between party v party and citizens v state tribunals. It will be a distinct part of the justice system. Initially the new service will be based on the ten largest tribunals. The following already form the Lord Chancellors Department (LCD) * The Immigration Appellate Authority * The Office of Social Security and Child Support Commissioners * The Tax Appeals Tribunals * The Pension Appeals Tribunals and The Lands Tribunals In the light of the Leggatt Report, the following tribunals will become part of the LCD over the period of 2004/5-2007/8. ...read more.

Middle

Reports by the Council on tribunals have highlighted delays, due to the vast volume of work that tribunals now face. An extreme example of this delay comes from the case of Alison Halford who brought proceedings for sex discrimination against Police Authorities. The case lasted 39 days, spread over a period of several months and it was more than 2 years from the date of her original application to the conclusion of the case. Ms Winter added, in respect of the issue on delays and in the light of Sir Andrew's Report that, "to be effective, the independence of tribunals should be highlighted. Cases should also be heard as quickly as possible and delays should be tackled." How this was supposed to be achieved was not a topic in her speech. A substantial number of recommendations were made by Sir Andrew in his report. They have - on the Lord Chancellor's instructions - not been fully costed. What the review does is set out the principles for modernizing administrative justice. So what were the basic principles that Sir Andrew Leggatt has established in his report. What element lies within this report which links his considerable number of proposed reforms? Leggatt's basic principle seems to be that: * Tribunals should be independent; * The tribunals system should be more coherent; * The tribunals should be more user-friendly. ...read more.

Conclusion

This was a step forward in improving the English Tribunal System. The Governments announcement of this proposal formed the foundation for policy proposals which would be outlined in a White Paper. Lord Irvine voiced: "I want to ensure that the three great pillars of the justice system are reformed and the reforms are brought into effect successfully and efficiently... a unified tribunal service will have at its core the top 10 non-developed tribunals which currently exists throughout departments in Whitehall. By combining the administration we will deliver a more efficient and effective service to the users of tribunals." Lord Newton expressed that this was a major step forward underpinning tribunals' independence and paving the way for further improvements in standards following Sir Andrew Leggatt's review of tribunals. Leggatt offers a "blueprint" for restructuring the administration of Tribunals in England and Wales. It is far too early to know exactly what will happen and how far the Government will go in carrying out the proposed reforms. If reform is to go ahead, it will require determination to resist those who see no need for change as well as a great deal of hard work to put the new structure in place. I personally feel that the Review Sir Andrew has put forward offers a sound basis for developing a tribunal structure which increases accessibility to tribunals, raises customer service standards and improves administration. Word Count 2229 ...read more.

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