How the Tribunal works

The Tribunal is an independent court has a number of characteristics that distinguish it from other courts and tribunals. One of its unique characteristics as a court is that, where appropriate, it is able to follow through any questions which might arise, by ordering an investigation, with which the public body concerned is compelled to co-operate. Although it is called a Tribunal, the IPT is not part of 'Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunal Service'.

The Tribunal’s decision-makers and those with the power to order investigations are its Members. At present there are eight Members. They are all lawyers of experience and standing, presided over by the President or Vice-President, who are High Court Judges. The Members are assisted in their work by a Secretariat. The Secretariat duties include preparing files in respect of each complaint and carrying out essential administrative work.
In his 2001 Report of the Review of Tribunals (Paragraph 3.11) Sir Andrew Leggatt outlined some of the exceptional features of the Tribunal saying:

"There is one exception among citizen and state tribunals. This Tribunal (IPT) is different from all others in that its concern is with security. For this reason it must remain separate from the rest and ought not to have any relationship with other tribunals. It is therefore wholly unsuitable both for inclusion in the Tribunals System and for administration by the Tribunals Service. So although the chairman [of the Tribunals system] is a Lord Justice of Appeal and would be the senior judge in the Tribunals System, he would not be in a position to take charge of it.

"The Tribunal’s powers are primarily investigatory, even though it does also have an adjudicative role. Parliament has provided that there should be no appeal from the tribunal except as provided by the Secretary of State.

"Subject to tribunal rules made by the Secretary of State the Tribunal is entitled to determine its own procedure. We have accordingly come to the conclusion that this Tribunal should continue to stand alone; but there should apply to it such of our other recommendations as are relevant and not inconsistent with the statutory provisions relating to it."

The Tribunal is unique in that it:

At present there is no domestic route of appeal or review against the Tribunal’s decisions. It is possible, however, to challenge a ruling of the Tribunal by making an application to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.  

See the Route of an Application through the Tribunal


Last updated: 5 Jul 16