What is a Tribunal and How Does it Work?
A tribunal is a type of court that hears and decides disputes between parties on specific matters of law. Tribunals are often specialized in certain areas, such as employment, immigration, human rights, or taxation. Tribunals are usually less formal and more accessible than regular courts, and they may have different rules of evidence and procedure.
In this article, we will explain the main features of tribunals, how they differ from courts, and how to prepare for a tribunal hearing.
Features of Tribunals
Tribunals have some common features that distinguish them from courts, such as:
- Tribunals are usually composed of one or more members who are experts in the relevant field of law or have relevant experience or qualifications.
- Tribunals are usually independent and impartial, meaning they are not influenced by the government or any other parties involved in the dispute.
- Tribunals are usually more flexible and informal than courts, meaning they can adapt to the needs and circumstances of each case.
- Tribunals are usually more accessible and affordable than courts, meaning they have lower fees, simpler procedures, and less strict requirements for legal representation.
- Tribunals are usually faster and more efficient than courts, meaning they can resolve disputes in a timely manner and avoid lengthy delays.
Differences between Tribunals and Courts
Although tribunals have some similarities with courts, such as applying the law and making binding decisions, there are also some important differences, such as:
- Tribunals are usually created by statute or regulation, meaning they derive their authority and jurisdiction from specific laws or rules.
- Tribunals are usually subject to judicial review, meaning their decisions can be challenged or appealed in a higher court on grounds of legality or fairness.
- Tribunals are usually less adversarial and more inquisitorial than courts, meaning they focus more on finding the facts and resolving the issues rather than on testing the arguments and evidence of the parties.
- Tribunals are usually less formal and more participatory than courts, meaning they encourage the parties to present their own case and ask questions directly to the tribunal members or witnesses.
- Tribunals are usually less bound by precedent and more open to discretion than courts, meaning they can take into account various factors and circumstances in making their decisions.
Preparing for a Tribunal Hearing
If you are involved in a dispute that is referred to a tribunal, you should prepare yourself for the hearing by following these steps:
- Read the notice of hearing carefully and make sure you understand the date, time, location, and format of the hearing.
- Gather all the relevant documents and evidence that support your case and organize them in a logical order.
- Write a statement or submission that summarizes your position and arguments and explains why you should win the case.
- Research the law and the tribunal’s rules and procedures that apply to your case and familiarize yourself with them.
- Consider whether you need legal representation or advice from a lawyer or an advocate who specializes in tribunal cases.
- Practice your presentation skills and anticipate the questions that the tribunal members or the other party may ask you.
- Arrive at the hearing venue early and dress appropriately and respectfully.
- Be polite and courteous to everyone at the hearing, including the tribunal members, the other party, the witnesses, and the staff.
- Listen carefully to the instructions and directions of the tribunal members and follow them accordingly.
- Present your case clearly and concisely and answer any questions honestly and confidently.
A tribunal is a type of court that hears and decides disputes between parties on specific matters of law. Tribunals have some advantages over regular courts, such as being more specialized, independent, flexible, accessible, affordable, fast, and efficient. However, tribunals also have some limitations, such as being subject to judicial review, less adversarial, less formal, less bound by precedent, and more open to discretion. Therefore, if you are involved in a tribunal case, you should prepare yourself well for the hearing by following the steps outlined above.