Advantages and Disadvantages of Tribunal System as Opposed to the Traditional Court System


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This essay aims to discuss the tribunal system in terms of the advantages and disadvantages as opposed to the traditional court system. According to the Open University “tribunal is a term that has been used to refer to a number of different decision-making bodies”.

Tribunals are described as specialist courts which hear cases in a particular area of law. For example, hearing employment law cases or social security benefit appeals. Whereas the courts are the formal courts of law and their purpose is to uphold the law. Tribunals were created to provide an alternative form of dispute resolution and therefore, they deal with disputes between the state and the citizen or between two individuals, rather than using the traditional court system which is by using a judge. The tribunal system plays a vital role in the administration of justice and they are different from courts in numerous ways.

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Tribunals hold several valuable assets in serving the system. An advantage of this is that they are cost-effective, as individuals can represent themselves and it is, therefore, inexpensive to bring a case to a tribunal. Whereas, in the court system the loser will pay the winning party the legal fees. Another way that makes tribunals less expensive than a courthouse is that the members that sit on the tribunal panels are cheaper to employ than the judges, and they do not require a legal representative.

Another advantage of tribunals is the speed in making decisions, and this is because they are less formal, and tribunals are more likely to resolve disputes than cases that go through the court.

The informality is an initial purpose of the tribunals, they tend not to be bound by the same strict procedures as the court system and are far simpler than a court system. Tribunal adjudicators that make official decisions, wear suits rather than wearing a gown and wigs. The parties will sit around the same table rather than standing in court to present evidence. Tribunals will also take an inquisitorial method rather than an adversarial. They can be more flexible than rigid court rules of evidence and procedure which do not apply in tribunals.

Although tribunals system holds many strengths, one of the disadvantages is the representation even though ‘The Leggatt Report’ recommends users to represent themselves. Individuals that are financially stable have an advantage and can potentially hire a legal representative, placing a disadvantage on those who cannot afford it. Another disadvantage includes delays even though tribunals deal with appeals more efficiently than the court’s system, it can take up to twelve months to receive a decision regarding the entitlement to certain social security benefits.

In conclusion, tribunals have advantages that are valuable in many ways in its own rights. Tribunals are not entirely dissimilar to the court system, but they do a valuable job in taking some types of work away from the courts and dealing with specialised matters. Their purpose is to be cheaper and quicker than the courts and, in most cases, they are with the exception of some types of appeals which is a disadvantage and identified weakness. The strengths of tribunals are decidedly more feasible than using the court system for dispute resolution in terms of cost-effectiveness and time in most cases.

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