Cheshire East

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Law Commission calls for unified tribunal system in Wales

A new unified tribunal system should be introduced in Wales to replace the current “fragmented” tribunals, the Law Commission has recommended.

The Government’s law reform advisory body said the rules and procedures for the devolved Welsh tribunals were “complicated and inconsistent, and in some instances, unfit for purpose”.

It suggested this was because the rules and procedures governing tribunals in Wales had developed piecemeal from a wide range of different legislation. “Much of the legislation was developed outside the devolution process, resulting in gaps.”

The Law Commission added: “Changes made by the Wales Act 2017, for example, have not been taken into account, including the existence of the President of the Welsh Tribunals and the extended scope of the Senedd’s competencies. The overall system is not coherent, and lacks flexibility.”

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In a report it has proposed the establishment of the First-tier Tribunal for Wales, divided into chambers, such as a property chamber and an education chamber.

As part of the new system, the Commission is also recommending:

  • The creation of an Appeal Tribunal for Wales, to hear appeals from the First-tier Tribunal for Wales.
  • The creation of a Tribunals Procedure Committee with responsibility for reviewing and updating procedures.
  • The creation of a non-ministerial department to replace the existing Welsh Tribunals Unit which will be independent from the Welsh Government and responsible for managing the tribunals system.

Nicholas Paines QC, Commissioner for Public and Welsh Law, said: “The tribunal system in Wales is complex and outdated and isn’t effectively meeting the needs of the Welsh public. It’s clear that an overhaul is needed.

“Our recommendations would create a single unified tribunals system that is fit for the 21st Century and able to adapt to future changes.”

The Law Commission’s report has been presented to the Senedd. It is now for the Welsh Government to decide whether and how to enact the changes.

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