Their day in court

Published on 5 October 2005

Oral hearings before a court or a tribunal have been the traditional way of deciding disputes that cannot be resolved any other way. They have many advantages; in particular they give the litigants 'their day in court'. But are they the only, or necessarily the best, way?

In contributing to the debate about reforming the tax tribunals, the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) suggests that where the facts are agreed, paper hearings may be just as good a way forward, one which has particular advantages for the unrepresented.

Paper hearings should therefore be available at the option of the appellant. But this should not constrain the right of the appellant to choose an oral hearing, even where the paper processes are underway. The appellant should always have the choice.

Good case management is crucial to the process, to keep up the momentum of the proceedings, to ensure fair play between the parties, and to ensure that justice is not prejudiced by the absence of an oral hearing. A valuable right for the appellant would be to require that there be no further appeals beyond the first tier.

To download our response to the Council on Tribunals' consultative paper The use and value of oral hearings in the administrative justice system, follow the link below.

Contact Name: Robin Williamson (Tel: 0844 579 6700; Fax: 0844 579 6701)

(05-10-2005)

To open the file click below:
The use and value of oral hearings in the administrative justice system - LITRG response