Hearings - Alternative Business Structures
Before the hearing
After your application to the tribunal is complete, a number of steps are taken to determine the scope and format of the forthcoming hearing.
Preliminary hearings, or directions hearings, may be conducted in person or via telephone conference in order to agree and set out the steps which need to be taken prior to your hearing.
This will include determining, for example, which documents the tribunal will require, and determine which witnesses the tribunal will need to hear evidence from. This often results in a number of orders being made to ensure your hearing takes place within the agreed timetable as efficiently as possible.
At this or any stage before the full hearing, if both parties agree, the tribunal may decide to determine the appeal on the papers without holding a full hearing.
A notice of a hearing will be sent to you in advance.
The oral hearing
The Tribunal will try to organise a hearing as soon as possible. You will receive a notice providing the time and place of the hearing at least 14 days beforehand together with a map of how to find the venue.
Oral hearings will normally start between 10.00am and 10.30am unless the tribunal decides otherwise. It is suggested that you arrive at least 30 minutes before the planned start of your hearing, because there maybe delays in entering the hearing due to the need for security checks.
The following may be present at oral hearings:
- A judge;
- Clerk to the tribunal;
- Regulator or his legal representative;
- Person making the appeal - the appellant and legal representative (if any);
- Additional parties and their legal representatives (if any);
- Possibly members of the public and press in high profile cases - the cases are usually heard in public
Any party involved in the appeal can call witnesses to support their case. If a witness refuses to attend a hearing the tribunal can issue a summons to order that person to attend.
If you require an interpreter you should put your request in writing and send it by fax, email or letter to the tribunal stating your case reference number and the details of what is required. Please give the tribunal as much notice as possible (at least a week) to avoid delays to the hearing.
There is no legal requirement for you to have a solicitor. Please note there is no legal aid available for appeals to the Tribunal. However you may be able to obtain free legal support. Details can be found on our Appeals page.
Arriving for a hearing
When you arrive at the hearing centre, you should report to the receptionist who will note your arrival and direct you to a waiting area. If you require a private waiting room ask the receptionist who may be able to assist, if any rooms are available. The tribunal clerk will find you, brief you on the courtroom procedure and guide you to the room when the case is ready to start. The clerk will want to know the names of any witnesses and, if they are required by the judge to take an oath, the holy book they would wish to use for the purpose.
The parties or their representatives will usually sit on the front bench facing the tribunal panel, their witnesses behind them and members of the public at the rear of the courtroom. The judge will manage the proceedings and explain the order in which the parties and their witnesses will be heard. Usually the appellant will open and call witnesses first. Once a witness has given evidence, the other parties and the tribunal panel will be able to put questions to him or her.
This process will be repeated for all witnesses. Finally the parties will make their final submissions to the judge who will then usually retire to consider their decision.
The judge will manage the hearing in a way that helps ensure there is time for the proper questioning of witnesses and so as to bring matters to a timely conclusion at the end of the hearing.
Each party pays their own costs unless, in very rare cases, a party has been unreasonable.