Tribunal Reform: Proportionate Dispute Resolution and the Pursuit of Administrative Justice
The article considers some unresolved policy choices associated with the implementation of ‘proportionate dispute resolution’, one of the most interesting ideas in the Department of Constitutional Affairs' White Paper Transforming Public Services: Complaints, Redress and Tribunals, published in 2004. It attempts to put the White Paper into context by tracing the Government's concern with tribunal reform over the last 50 years. It briefly compares the Franks Report, published in 1957, with the Leggatt Report, published in 2001, and outlines the steps that led to the publication, three years later, of the White Paper. It then analyses the similarities and differences in the approaches to reform taken by the Leggatt Report and the White Paper. The article focuses on the principle of ‘proportionate dispute resolution’, the idea that the ways in which cases are dealt with should reflect the nature of the dispute and what the person in dispute with a public body wishes to achieve. Seven policy options are considered, all of which hold out the prospect of enhancing administrative justice, either by reducing the incidence of disputes or by handling them more effectively. They are then assessed in terms of how well they are likely to do so.