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DATE & TIME : 10/ 11/ 09 (5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.)

Room LT2
The proliferation of tribunals has been a unique feature of the development of the judicial
Administration. An alternative to the court system, it was set up under various Acts of
Parliament to rule on the operations of particular schemes established under those Acts.
With the significant increase in the number of tribunals it is no longer acceptable to
regard them as merely an accessory to the ordinary courts of law. Although, they are
regarded as inferior, tribunals form an integral part of the ordinary legal process and are
independent in the exercise of their various jurisdictions.

There exist a number of advantages in favor of the use of tribunal over the ordinary court
system. They are as follows:
• Speed - Within the ordinary court system there is an infamously dilatory delay in
hearing and deciding cases. Whereas, where tribunals are practiced there exists a
great level of certainty with regards to a hearing date without being subjected to
the vagaries of the courts system. Tribunals, therefore, help prevent delays, and
their proceedings do not last so long.
• Cost - Usually the courts are staffed by highly qualified individuals to decide
cases. In tribunals however the individual deciding the case would usually be
persons who should possess an intimate knowledge of the problems involved and
not specifically the legal qualifications. Consequently, it becomes less expensive
to employ the individuals. Additionally since the complainants don’t necessarily
have to rely on legal representation, is another cost saving factor. These are
further enhanced by the additional fact that no court fees are involved in the
deciding of tribunals, as a result award of costs are very rare. Tribunals also
reduce the workloads of the judiciary and government departments which at the
end of the day contributes to cost reduction.
• Informality - Tribunals proceedings have a tendency to take the role of
inquisitorial or accusatorial. As a result, they are supposed to be less intimidating.
The applications of the strict rules of the courts relating to evidence and pleading
are not binding in tribunals. This informality is intended to encourage participants
to freely express their views of the situation before the tribunal. It also suggests
that the complainants don’t need legal counsel to present their grievances as many
do so themselves or nominate an individual who is more knowledgeable.
• Flexibility - Tribunals are not bound by precedents. Although they are
regarded as inferior to the courts, they are subjected to them. Therefore some level
of consistency and predictability with regards to precedents made in court should
be adhered to.
• Accessibility - There would be hardly any argument that accessibility to
tribunals is much easier than getting a case before the courts. In view of this the
aim of tribunals is to provide individuals with a readily accessible forum where
their grievances can be aired.
• Expertise - This is achieved by ensuring that members of tribunals is made
up of persons with special skills, knowledge or expertise of the matter at hand
against the more general legal expertise of the chairperson, which results in
ensuring justice is done. Tribunals are the embodiment of expert adjudication.
• Privacy - Proceedings brought before a tribunal usually attracts less
publicity that may follow a court case.

1. B. Thompson, B. Walsh and M. Allen – Cases and Materials on Constitutional

and Administrative Law

2. Gary Slapper and David Kelly – Question and Answer Series. English Legal


3. S.H. Bailey and M.J. Gunn – Smith and bailey on the English Legal System 2nd


4. Terrence Ingman – The English Legal System 2nd Edition