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 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 Welsh tribunal members, as well as for representing their views to Welsh Ministers and other Members of the National Assembly for Wales.
The President will also be able to give practice directions and will be responsible for deploying tribunal members between the different Welsh tribunals, as well as between the UK-wide tribunals and the Welsh tribunals.
The Welsh Tribunals which fall within the remit of the President of Welsh Tribunals are:
(a) the Agricultural Land Tribunal for Wales or Tribiwnlys Tir Amaethyddol Cymru;
(b) the Mental Health Review Tribunal for Wales;
(c) 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);
(d) the Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales or Tribiwnlys Anghenion Addysgol Arbennig Cymru;
(e) a tribunal constituted in accordance with Schedule 3 to the Education Act 2005 (registration of inspectors in Wales: tribunals hearing appeals under section 27);
(f) a tribunal drawn from the Adjudication Panel for Wales or Panel Dyfarnu Cymru;
(g) 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 the Assembly 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.
Devolution and the administration of justice
During the passage of the Bill that become the Wales Act 2017 there was considerable debate about whether it put in place a system of government that was stable and coherent for the long term. In consequence the Welsh Government established a Commission to consider the issues that in its view underpin this question. The Commission on Justice in Wales, chaired by the former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, is considering:
• the implications of having a single legal jurisdiction for England and Wales;
• the implications of making law being devolved and administering generally not being devolved;
• the effect that justice functions generally not being devolved has on public services that are devolved, and
• more general concerns about the justice system , many of which are not specific to Wales.
The Welsh Government has submitted several evidence papers to the Commission which can be found here:
1. Overview - https://gov.wales/submission-justice-commission-welsh-government
2. Law and the Constitution
3. Family justice
4. Education and employment
5. Victims, offenders and communities
6. Health and social care
7. Access to justice and human rights
8. The role of legal services and the legal sector in the Welsh economy
9. The Draft Government and Laws in Wales Bill