The Civil Justice System

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Tribunals

Introduction

Tribunals are not courts but they do operate alongside the court system and have become an important part of the civil justice system. Many tribunals were created with the development of the welfare state in the second half of the twentieth century. They were created in order to give people a method of enforcing their entitlement to certain social rights. However, unlike alternative dispute resolution (ADR) where the parties choose not to use the courts, the parties in a tribunal case cannot go to court to resolve their dispute. Instead, they must use the relevant tribunal.

The Role of tribunals

Tribunals are designed to enforce a person’s rights which have been granted to them through social and welfare legislation (Acts of Parliament). There are many different rights, such as:

• the right to a payment if you are made redundant from work;
• the right not to be discriminated against because of your sex, race, age or a disability;
• the right to a mobility allowance if you are too disabled to walk more than a very short distance.

The above is just a small selection of the types of ‘rights’ that tribunals deal with.

Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007

Remember tribunals were set up as the welfare state developed, so new developments resulted in a new tribunal being created. This led to more than 70 different tribunals being created. Each tribunal was separate and the various different tribunals all operated
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