Keep public interest at the heart of tribunal reform, urges Law Society
The Law Society of Scotland has today (10 September) urged MSPs to ensure that tribunals in Scotland retain their distinctive and positive characteristics, such as simple and flexible procedures, as these features benefit members of the public who use tribunals.
The Tribunals (Scotland) Bill, currently progressing through Scottish Parliament, aims to modernise the devolved tribunal structure by creating a more coherent and simplified system of tribunals.
Speaking after his oral evidence session on the Tribunals Bill to the Scottish Parliament's Justice Committee, Richard Henderson, former president of the Law Society of Scotland, said:
"We welcome this Bill; it should help to provide a more coherent and consistent tribunal structure in Scotland, which is undeniably a good thing for users of the administrative justice system.
"However, we have raised concerns that the Bill does not include a definition of what constitutes a 'tribunal.' We think that a definition could help to safeguard the distinctive character of the tribunals system and ensure that Scottish tribunals retain a separate and unique identity to courts.
"Tribunals are by their very nature less adversarial than courts. Their procedures are also often simpler and more flexible. We think these characteristics benefit members of the public who use tribunals and we hope that the Tribunals Bill can in some way incorporate these features.
"We look forward to working with MSPs to address this issue and others which arise as the consideration of this bill develops."
Notes to editors
Richard Henderson gave evidence on the Tribunals (Scotland) Bill on 10 September to the Scottish Parliament's Justice Committee.
Adrian Ward, Convener to the Law Society's Mental Health and Disability Sub-Committee, also gave evidence on the Tribunals (Scotland) Bill on 10 September to the Scottish Parliament's Justice Committee.
The Tribunals (Scotland) Bill can be viewed here
The Law Society of Scotland's written evidence can be viewed here
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10 September 2013