Future oversight of administrative justice: the proposed abolition of the Adminstrative Justice and Tribunals Council - Public Administration Committee Contents

1  Introduction

1. The statutory functions of the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council (AJTC) include keeping the administrative justice system under review, and considering ways to make the system accessible, fair and efficient.[1] These functions may seem obscure and technical, but they touch upon the lives, standards of living and rights of millions of citizens every year. Our remit includes consideration of the quality and standard of administration provided by government departments, and matters in connection with the office of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (a key player in the administrative justice system and a body falling within the remit of the AJTC).[2]

2. Following the Government's announcement in October 2010 of its intention to abolish the AJTC as part of its programme of reform of public bodies, we decided to carry out a short inquiry into the Government's plans for future oversight of the administrative justice system. The inquiry was launched in October 2011. In November we took oral evidence from Richard Thomas and Ray Burningham, respectively Chairman and Chief Executive of the AJTC; and from Jonathan Djanogly MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, and Anna Deignan, Deputy Director, Access to Justice Directorate at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).[3] We also received ten written submissions.

3. We have been advised during this inquiry by Professor Martin Partington QC, Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Bristol. We are grateful to him for his assistance and insight.[4]

4. Under the Public Bodies Act 2011, the Government has the power to abolish the AJTC by Order. Before coming into force, the draft Order must be debated and approved by both Houses, and will also be considered by the House of Commons Justice Committee. The purpose of this Report is to inform that further scrutiny.

1   Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, Schedule 7, para 13 Back

2   Standing Order No. 146 Back

3   Ev 1 Back

4   Professor Martin Partington QC was appointed as specialist adviser to this inquiry on 6 December 2011.  Back

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© Parliamentary copyright 2012
Prepared 8 March 2012