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Alternatives to the courts - advantages and disadvantages of tribunals

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Advantages and disadvantages of Tribunals



1. Cheapness


2. Accessibility


3. Freedom from technicality, [The simplified rules of evidence and procedure reduce legal costs, and allow people to represent themselves]


4. Expert knowledge of their particular subject [through specialism, which reduces the time needed and thus costs]. - The Franks Committee


5. Legally qualified chairmen - helping to ensure justice is done


6. The procedure means that if you do not know what you are doing the tribunal will help you


7. Tribunals' local knowledge can be beneficial


8. Reasoned judgments allow for both sides to make amends, for appeals, and for justice to be seen to be done


9. They help reduce the workload of the judiciary


10. They reduce the workload of government departments


11. They remove ministerial (i.e. political) responsibility for sensitive decisions, which is good for the minister, who may wish to avoid the menial work of tribunals, and undesired publicity. Furthermore, ministers are not perceived as having independence, so the decision, however intrinsically 'good' is tainted by their politics


12. They allow flexibility, since there is little use made of precedent

1. There is an unfair imbalance between represented and unrepresented parties - it is unfair to people who are not represented and cannot get legal aid to come up against a rich corporation - since richer parties are allowed to employ skilled representation they are consequently more likely to win


2. The no-costs rule and lack of legal aid penalise poor litigants, although they do keep costs down


3. The lack of fees encourages poor applicants, although it may also result in ill-founded claims


4. Tribunals can become complex over time - as did the courts - rules of procedure grow up caused by the use of representatives who as a result make representation desirable in future


5. They may lack some of the perceived independence of the judiciary


6. It can still be difficult for the people who go to tribunals to represent themselves because of the inherent difficulty in presenting a case in any environment.

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