EHRC briefing - HoL, Committee stage, Courts and Tribunals (Judiciary and Functions of Staff) Bill
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has produced a briefing for Lords Committee Stage of the Courts and Tribunals (Judiciary and Functions of Staff) Bill.
This briefing (can be found in full here) sets out our analysis of and support for the following proposed amendments to the Courts and Tribunals (Judiciary and Functions of Staff) Bill:
- Amendments 8 and 10 which set restrictions on which judicial functions can be delegated to authorised staff
- Amendments 9 and 11 providing the right to apply for judicial reconsideration of a decision made by authorised staff
The Commission accepts that enabling appropriate decisions to be made by authorised staff could mean the users of the courts and tribunals will experience a more efficient service, which would be welcome. Delegation of some judicial functions to court and tribunal staff already takes place in some jurisdictions. Our concerns are that the Bill does not set any restrictions on the judicial functions which can be delegated; does not provide detail about the qualifications or experience which staff will have to have before they can undertake those functions; and means that decisions which can have a significant impact on the outcome of cases may be made by HMCTS employees rather than independent judges.
Our priorities are:
- ensuring that such delegation does not prejudice the right to a fair trial required by Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and in particular the requirement that rights are determined by an independent and impartial person.
- ensuring that such delegation helps rather than hinders court and tribunals to meet the needs of those with particular characteristics protected by the Equality Act 2010.