Government plans to scrap the Administrative Justice & Tribunals Council are ‘misguided’ and ‘perverse’, the body’s chair has told the Ministry of Justice.
Responding to the consultation proposing the abolition of the AJTC, Richard Thomas said the independent body, which reviews the administrative justice system and challenges the impact of public policy, provides a valuable service at a ‘relatively minuscule cost’ to the public purse.
But the MoJ paper says that it is ‘no longer an efficient or economic use of resources’ to have an independent advisory body carrying out functions in relation to administrative justice.
It suggests that the AJTC’s function could be performed by a team of MoJ civil servants, saving an estimated £4.3m over three years.
Thomas argues that civil servants within a government department could not provide the independent advice needed in an area where citizens are challenging government.
He disputes the cost savings envisaged by the abolition, and questions the timing of the proposal, given heightened concern over both access to justice and the public perceptions of the justice system at a time of increasing economic and social uncertainty.
Thomas said: ‘Abolition of the AJTC would see the disappearance of a well-established, well-respected and well-connected body which has a unique overview across the entire system of decision-making, complaints and appeals as it impacts the daily lives of ordinary citizens.’ He said its abolition is ‘perverse’ and ‘misguided’ and should not be pursued.
The Public and Commercial Services Union said that the body plays an important role and is ‘more of an irritant and a hindrance to the current administration in its attempts to cut the public sector’.
It added: ‘If the current government listened to [the council’s] deliberations it would save millions rather than having to pay out to disgruntled users and members of the public.’