A new structure for tribunals in Scotland has come into effect with the launch of the Housing & Property Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland and the Upper Tribunal for Scotland.
The chamber will take over the work of the former Private Rented Housing Panel (PHRP) and the Homeowner Housing Panel (HOHP) dealing with property issues. It will hear disputes on rents, repairs and access for landlords to their properties as well as helping to resolve disputes that arise between homeowners and property factors.
From December 2017 it will also start to hear more private rented sector cases – including the new letting agents’ regime, transfer of jurisdiction from the sheriff courts and new private tenancies.
President of the chamber will be Mrs Aileen Devanny, who was President of PRHP and HOHP.
The Upper Tribunal will act as the appeal body for decisions made by the chamber, rather than appeals being heard in the courts. Appeal can be taken on a point of law to the Court of Session.
The new tribunal structure was created for devolved tribunals by the Tribunals (Scotland) Act 2014, mirroring the two tier organisation in place for UK tribunals such as tax, immigration and social security.
A dedicated website for the new chamber is at www.housingandpropertychamber.scot. Administration of the new tribunals is based in new offices at Atlantic Quay, Glasgow, but hearings will continue to take place at existing locations.
Court of Session judge Lady Smith, the President of Scottish Tribunals, who has led the chamber implementation programme, commented: “When I was assigned to the office of President of Tribunals, I said that I recognised the challenge for me was to turn the dry prose of the new legislative structure into human reality in a way that enabled all involved to be justifiably proud of their achievements. That applies as much now as it did then, particularly as the Housing & Property Chamber embarks on a new way of working.
“I am very grateful to the many people who have worked so hard to get it to this stage, ready and able to achieve its objectives of treating all parties equally, dealing with cases proportionately according to their level of complexity, dealing with them expeditiously and delivering efficient and effective decision making of high quality.”
Further chambers of the First-tier Tribunal to be established include the Tax Chamber, Health & Education Chamber, the Mental Health Chamber and the General Regulatory Chamber.
At the same time, the training, welfare and conduct of members of the housing and property tribunals has become the responsibility of the Lord President, Lord Carloway, who has delegated his responsibility for the efficient disposal of business, the review of the professional competency of ordinary and legal members, and the policies for assignment of the ordinary, legal and judicial members of both tiers, to Lady Smith.