Reform and human rights group JUSTICE is to host a new body to oversee the administrative justice system, it announced today. The Administrative Justice Council will succeed the Administrative Justice Forum, which was wound up earlier this year. It in turn succeeded the UK Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council, a body with statutory powers controversially abolished in a 2013 government ’bonfire of quangos’.
The new body will be chaired by Lord Justice Ryder, senior president of tribunals. It is the latest attempt to create a coordination mechanism for administrative justice, frequently described as the Cinderella of the justice systems. Research body the UK Administrative Justice Institute says the sector is ’susceptible to fragmentation and silo isolation, and as such it poses unique challenges for those seeking to learn lessons across the ”system”’.
JUSTICE said the council, which is partly funded by the Ministry of Justice, will be the only body with oversight of the whole of the administrative justice landscape in the UK. ’It will advise government, including the devolved governments, and the judiciary on how to improve the administrative justice system.’
Its role will include examining issues such as the apparent extent of poor government decision making, JUSTICE said. ’in 2016, appeals before the relevant tribunals were successful in 43% of immigration and asylum cases, 61% of appeals in social security and child support cases and 88% in special educational needs and disability cases.’
Membership of the body will include representatives of legal professional bodies. JUSTICE will provide the council with an independent, non-partisan and dedicated secretariat function and liaise with ministers and civil servants. It is understood that the Ministry of Justice has promised £15,000 to support the work in 2017-18.
Professor Maurice Sunkin, chair of the UK Administrative Justice Institute, said: ‘We welcome the creation of the AJC as a positive step and hope it will have the necessary powers and resources to perform its role effectively. We have argued that there is a real need for an independent oversight body concerned with administrative justice able to take a holistic approach that is not rooted in silos or concerned only with particular ‘arms’ of the justice system; bring together academics, practitioners, policy-makers; understand the central role of research in the context of policy-making; and have sufficient authority to challenge ministers. These are ambitious aims and we wish the AJC well in securing their achievement.’