04 Aug 2014

Lady Smith becomes first President of Scottish Tribunals

Lady Smith becomes first President of Scottish Tribunals

Laura Dunlop, Trainee Solicitor, reports on the recent appointment of the first President of Scottish Tribunals. 

Laura Dunlop, Trainee Solicitor, reports on the recent appointment of the first President of Scottish Tribunals. 

The current Lord President, Lord Gill has named Court of Session judge, Lady Smith to the Office of President of the Scottish Tribunals this month.  Lady Smith will have the general responsibility of overseeing the tribunals and will be assigned various duties by the Lord President.

As the first President of Scottish Tribunals, Lady Smith’s responsibilities will include coordinating with the Senior President of Tribunals, Scottish Ministers' officials, officials of the Ministry of Justice and other interested parties on Scottish aspects of the proposed reforms of United Kingdom and British tribunals and generally on reform of the tribunal system in Scotland.  Her role will also involve ensuring that the Lord President is kept informed of matters that would affect his office in any proposals for reform. 

The announcement of Lady Smith’s appointment follows the implementation of the Tribunals (Scotland) Act 2014, the Act which will restructure the tribunal system in Scotland.  Section 4 of the Act creates a new, two-tier structure for devolved tribunals in Scotland – to be known as the Scottish Tribunals.  This will comprise of a First-tier Tribunal, which will hear cases in the first instance, and an Upper-tier, which will have an appellate function, and will hear appeals from the First-tier.  The tribunals will adopt a common system of leadership practice and procedures for reviews and appeals under the overall leadership of the Lord President of the Court of Session. 

The Act separates the First-tier into separate chambers, with each chamber dealing with a specific subject matter. Tribunals with similar jurisdictions will be grouped together in each chamber. Under the Bill delegated powers are given to Scottish Ministers to make regulations relating to the organisation of the tribunal chambers and functions between those chambers.

The new tribunals system allows for First and Upper-tier tribunals to review their own decisions where there has been an administrative error, and also creates a general right of appeal on a point of law, with leave, to the Upper-tier tribunal. 

Lady Smith has a vast experience of tribunals, having been a judge of the Employment Appeal Tribunal for eight years and she chairs the Scottish Tribunals Forum and the Reserved Tribunals Group.   Furthermore, she represents the interests of the Lord President in relation to tribunals where the relevant law has not been devolved to the Scottish Parliament, on the Tribunals Judicial Executive Board.

She has served as a member of the Court of Session Rules Council and is a previous Chairman of the Advocates Family Law Group and Chairman of the Advocates Professional Negligence Law Group. 

Laura Dunlop, Trainee Solicitor 

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