New Welsh law reform project on tribunals announced

Carwyn Jones, the First Minister of Wales, has announced that the Law Commission will review the laws which govern tribunals in Wales.

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A tribunal is a body set up to settle disputes and to review public bodies’ decisions. But the rules and procedures for the devolved Welsh tribunals are complicated and inconsistent, and in some instances, unfit for practice.

As a result, the Law Commission will look to make recommendations which will sweep away the complexity and help shape the Tribunals Bill for Wales, designed to regulate a single system for tribunals in Wales.

Law Commissioner Nicholas Paines QC said:

“Tribunals play an important role in settling disputes, so it’s only right that the laws which govern how they run are as efficient as possible.

“We look forward to starting this work and helping the Welsh government as it looks to capitalise on the new opportunities devolution provides to make Welsh law simpler, clearer and fairer.”

Settling the law around tribunals

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 in the legislation.

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 Welsh Assembly’s competencies.

As a result, the Welsh Government has asked the Law Commission to start a review which will cover issues including:

  • the scope of a tribunal system for Wales
  • the roles of the President of Welsh Tribunals and the Welsh Tribunals Unit
  • appointment and discipline of Tribunal judges and other members
  • appointment of Presidents/Deputies
  • power to make and standardise procedural rules
  • appeals processes
  • complaints process
  • protecting judicial independence

The work will begin in 2019 and is expected to take 12 months.