About Tribunals

Tribunals are specialist judicial bodies which decide disputes in particular areas of law.

Appeals to tribunals are generally against a decision made by a Government department or agency. The exception to this is the Employment Tribunal where cases are on a party v party basis (i.e. employee versus employer).  

There are tribunals in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland covering a wide range of areas affecting day-to-day life. HM Courts & Tribunals administers many of them although some are the responsibility of the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Appeals to the First-tier Tribunal are against the decisions from government departments and other public bodies. The Upper Tribunal hears appeals from the First-tier Tribunal on points of law i.e. an appeal made over the interpretation of a legal principle or statute. Further appeals may be made, with permission, to the Court of Appeal.

Tribunal judges are legally-qualified. Tribunal members are specialist non-legal members of the panel and include doctors, chartered surveyors, ex-service personnel or accountants. Tribunals often sit as a panel comprising a judge and non-legal members however in some jurisdictions cases may be heard by a judge or member sitting alone.

Tribunals adopt procedures that are less complicated and more informal than those typically associated with the courts.

HM Courts & Tribunals Service


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