Current project status
The current status of this project is: Complete.
List of project stages:
- Analysis of responses
- Initiation: Could include discussing scope and terms of reference with lead Government Department
- Pre-consultation: Could include approaching interest groups and specialists, producing scoping and issues papers, finalising terms of project
- Consultation: Likely to include consultation events and paper, making provisional proposals for comment
- Policy development: Will include analysis of consultation responses. Could include further issues papers and consultation on draft Bill
- Reported: Usually recommendations for law reform but can be advice to government, scoping report or other recommendations
We have published our report on the devolved tribunals in Wales.
A tribunal is a body set up to settle disputes, usually following public bodies’ decisions. But the rules and procedures for the devolved tribunals in Wales are complicated and inconsistent, and in some instances, unfit for practice.
This is because the rules and procedures governing tribunals in Wales have developed piecemeal from a wide range of different legislation. Much of the legislation was developed outside the devolution process, resulting in gaps.
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.
The project considered how the system of devolved tribunals in Wales could be improved. We published a consultation paper on 16 December 2020, and published our report on 9 December 2021.
In our report, we recommend:
- Replacing the existing Welsh tribunals with a unified First-tier Tribunal for Wales, to be divided into chambers. This system would be more flexible and able to respond and adapt to future change.
- Including within the First-tier Tribunal the Valuation Tribunal for Wales (which is currently independent), and the work of school exclusion appeal panels. The First-tier Tribunal for Wales would be made up of – among others – property, education, mental health and Welsh language chambers.
- The creation of an Appeal Tribunal for Wales, to hear appeals from the First-tier Tribunal. There would also be a new appeal route from school admission appeal panels to the education chamber.
- Creating a new tribunals procedure committee, responsible for reviewing and updating the procedural rules on a regular basis to ensure they are responsive to changing circumstances and don’t go out of date again.
- Protecting judicial independence, by:
- Creating a new Tribunals Administration Service for Wales, to replace the existing Welsh Tribunals Unit. This should be a non-ministerial department with an increased role for judges.
- Imposing a new statutory duty on Welsh Ministers and all those responsible for tribunals administration to uphold the independence of the tribunals.
If you have any questions about the project, please email DevolvedTribunalsWales@lawcommission.gov.uk.
Area of law
Nicholas Paines KC