As a result of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, there is now a single, coherent system of tribunals all operating within the same framework (although the Employment Tribunal sits outside this unified system). Tribunals are split broadly into the First-tier Tribunal to hear cases at first instance, and an Upper Tribunal to hear appeals from the First-tier Tribunal. Both the First-tier Tribunal and the Upper Tribunal are split into a number of specialist chambers. From the Upper Tribunal there is the possibility of appeal to the Court of Appeal and from there to the Supreme Court. As well as these routes of appeal, tribunals are also subject to judicial review.
The structure chart for the courts in England and Wales can be found on the Judiciary UK website.
The Wales Act 2017 (WA 2017) established the role of a President of Welsh Tribunals to oversee devolved tribunals. There are 7 devolved tribunals which are the responsibility of the Welsh Government and over which the President presides:
- the Agricultural Land Tribunal for Wales or Tribiwnlys Tir Amaethyddol Cymru;
- the Mental Health Review Tribunal for Wales;
- a rent assessment committee constituted in accordance with Schedule 10 to the Rent Act 1977 (including a leasehold valuation tribunal and a residential property tribunal);
- the Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales or Tribiwnlys Anghenion Addysgol Arbennig Cymru;
- a tribunal constituted in accordance with Schedule 3 to the Education Act 2005 (registration of inspectors in Wales: tribunals hearing appeals under section 27);
- a tribunal drawn from the Adjudication Panel for Wales or Panel Dyfarnu Cymru;
- the Welsh Language Tribunal or Tribiwnlys y Gymraeg.
- Tribunals are funded by the Welsh Government but act independently of the Government.
New Tribunals may be created by Senedd Cymru in the future and pursuant to the WA 2017 these can be added to the list of the tribunals over which the President of the Welsh Tribunals presides.
Appointment and functions of the President of the Welsh Tribunals.
The President of the Welsh Tribunals is appointed by the Lord Chief Justice. Part 3 and Schedule 5 of the WA 2017 refers to the appointment of the President and the Welsh Tribunals.
One of the key functions of the President is to issue practice and procedural directions for the Welsh Tribunals. The President must ensure that Welsh Tribunals are accessible and that proceedings are conducted fairly and efficiently. The President has responsibility for making arrangements about the training, guidance and welfare of the Welsh tribunal members, as well as for representing their views to Welsh Ministers and other Members of Senedd Cymru.
The President is also able to give practice directions and is responsible for deploying tribunal members between the different Welsh tribunals, as well as between the UK-wide tribunals and the Welsh tribunals.